Sirabad To Clear The Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown

The first Saturday of 2015 provides a cracking card at Sandown courtesy of the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle, which gets underway at 2.25pm in front of the Channel 4 cameras.

Often a race won by one of the “power yards”, the Tolworth was indeed won on seven occasions during the last 10 years by Paul Nicholls (4) or Nicky Henderson (3), and once again the pair are well represented on Saturday.

Trends Summary
Of the last 10 Tolworth Hurdle winners…

9 ran in a class 3 or better race last time
9 made the top two last time
8 returned 6/1 or shorter
8 ran during the last 21-45 days
7 won only one hurdle
Those that won 96-100% of their hurdle runs failed at 0-17
P Nicholls won it four times, N Henderson three times

Nicky Henderson
Henderson has a realistic chance of winning once more with the 4yo, L’Ami Serge, who arrives having won a Grade 2 novice at Ascot a few weeks ago (2m, soft). Already around the 12/1 mark for the Supreme at Cheltenham in March (2m, soft), this 5yo is going places and remains the class act in the field.

Another class act already with a Graded success to their name is Dan Skelton’s, Shelford, who won a Grade 3 at Chepstow (2m4f, soft) prior to a 3l fourth in the Ladbroke at Ascot before Christmas (2m, good to soft). This will be another step up in class, but a stiff 2m on testing ground will not hold any fears.

Paul Nicholls
It’s interesting to note, however, that those who ran in a non-Graded race last time out did very well in this race, which bodes very well for Paul Nicholls’, Sirabad, who makes his British debut having won a quality hurdle in France in October (2m2f, heavy). He is a typical ex-French Nicholls recruit who should go on to better things and the pre-race market could provide clues.

Elsewhere, Warren Greatrex’s 5yo, Warrantor, won a maiden hurdle (2m, soft) prior to a class 4 novice win at Market Rasen a month ago (2m3f, soft), while the 6yo, Ebony Express, is 2-2 over hurdles having won at long odds-on at Carlisle last month (2m1f, heavy). The recent rain will suit and the latter shouldn’t be underestimated in what will be a test at Sandown.

Similar comments apply to Harry Fry’s, Jolly’s Cracked It, who is also 2-2 over hurdles having won a decent novices’ event at Ascot (2m, soft), and is another with the right profile who will love the ground and has stamina in abundance.

Irish Challenge
Willie Mullins has entered some interesting sorts, including Douvan, who is 2-3 over hurdles and was a 12l winner at Gowran Park a few months ago (2m, heavy). While he looks a chaser in the making, he looks a quality sort who could still land a Grade 1 before fences.

Mullins also has Tell Us More, who was another easy winner of a maiden hurdle at Gowran Park a few months ago (2m, heavy) and is another interesting prospect. It will be interesting to see what clues the betting gives should both run.

Recommended Bets

Those unexposed and yet to show their hand in Graded company have a good record in this race, such as Paul Nicholls’, Sirabad, who represents a yard that won this race four times in the last 10 renewals.