Saturday 5th January 2019
A big welcome to this week’s Saturday Preview on what is far from a vintage day’s racing but a solid enough card is on offer at Sandown with it being Tolworth day. Starting off we give a mention to the 1.50 which is a Listed Mares hurdle the reason said race deserves a mention is because it see’s the returning Laurina make her long awaited seasonal appearance. Connections have been suposedly waiting for a bit of cut in the ground and she’ll get that here however what she wont get is much opposition. Only four runners will go to post and she finds herself at a best priced of 1/6. She took all before her last season culminating with a victory in the Mares Novice race at Cheltenham and then followed up with Grade 1 success at Fairyhouse. So lets be honest, it would be a major shock should she not win here. Sensulano (8/1), Smaoineamh Alainn (18/1) and Got Away (40/1) make up the line up.
Thankfully the racing does get more competitive and onto the feature event of the afternoon which is of course the Tolworth Hurdle which takes place at 2.25. A Grade 1 affair that’s contested over a trip of just shy of two miles and it see’s Nicky Henderson’s highly thought of Rathhill head the market at a best price of 5/4. He was last seen when winning a maiden at Newbury last month in pretty comfortable style and you’d like to think that connections believe there is a lot of ability in his locker to be pitching him straight in Grade 1 company following a maiden success. A bold showing is very much likely to be on the cards. Paul Nicholls has two runners in the line up and the come first of these is Southfield Stone (8/1) who’s the mount of Harry Cobden. Winner of the last three of his races which include two over hurdles this is clearly a horse with ability despite having to take a step up in class for this particular assignment. The second of the Nicholls contenders is none other than Grand Sancy (9/1), this is a horse i’ve become a big fan of this season, an ultra consistent as well as tough sort who’s won several times and finished a solid fourth within a hot handicap the last day at Ascot. Sam Twiston-Davies is in the saddle.
The horse i’m going to side with here though is Colin Tizzard’s ELIXIR DE NUTZ (2/1). He doesn’t quite fit the bill for your average winner of this race but like Grand Sancy i’ve become a big fan of his this term and seen him win on a couple of occasions at Cheltenham. His most recent win at said track came last month where he was given a sizeable amount of weight away to a rival who has since gone on to win in commanding style at the same track. This Henderson hotpot is likely going to be a tough one to get the better of but I think Colin Tizzard’s charge will certainly be up for the fight.
(1.20) – WESTERN MILLER (8/1) (E/W)
“Hasn’t been at his best for some time but is on a very workable mark should he return to form. Gone well over track and trip before off higher.”