Harvey Mayson's top tips for Tolworth Hurdle Day 2019
12.15 – Unibet Juvenile Hurdle (RTV)
Course and distance winner Torpillo will be a warm order to get favourite backers off to a winning start here. He made his debut in heavy ground when fitted with a hood, making all the running to beat Caswell Bay by 23 lengths. The form is difficult to assess but he is already as short as 16-1 for the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Fukuto makes his UK debut for David Bridgwater, the winner of a 12-runner hurdle in France in October. Honorable is another French import and represents the Gary Moore stable. He won a maiden over a mile and three-quarters on the flat last summer.
Verdict: 1. TORPILLO 2. Honorable
12.45 – Unibet Handicap Chase (RTV)
This race has cut up badly, leaving a disappointing turnout of just four runners. Paul Nicholls saddles top weight Capeland with Harry Cobden aboard, a half-a-length winner at Ludlow last time out. The seven-year-old has gone up 7lbs but may have won with a little in hand.
Yorkist won impressively at Aintree in November but struggled off an 8lbs higher mark at Cheltenham next time. Poker School was no match for Sternrubin at Ludlow on his most recent start and has not won since Boxing Day 2016. Darebin ran better than his finishing position suggests last time and could pose a threat off his light weight.
Verdict: 1. CAPELAND 2. Darebin
1.20 – 32Red Handicap Chase (RTV)
Darius Des Bois made a promising debut over fences when second to Coup De Pinceau at Ludlow last month. The winner has been well beaten since and his other two rivals were pulled up so the form looks suspect. Larry was sent off favourite at Plumpton in November and was still in contention when falling 2 out. He will need to jump more fluently if he is to bounce back here.
The same applies to Lithic who took a crashing fall in an incident-packed race won by Warthog over course and distance. He had previously finished runner-up to Springtown Lake over course and distance and will race in a visor for the first time this weekend. Top weight Western Miller ran well here on his only previous visit but his recent form is not encouraging.
Verdict: 1. LARRY 2. Lithic
1.50 – Unibet Mares’ Hurdle (ITV4)
All eyes will be on Laurina here, currently 5-1 for the Champion Hurdle in March. Those odds reflect the regard in which she is held more than anything she has achieved on the racecourse. Although she was one of the easiest winners of the week at last year’s Cheltenham Festival, she has a lot to prove if she is to challenge the likes of Buveur D’Air. Willie Mullins has been waiting patiently for soft ground and she appears to have everything in her favour on Saturday.
Laurina has over a stone in hand on official ratings and this race may not tell us a great deal about her Champion Hurdle prospects. Sensulano is a progressive novice with victories at Ascot and Cheltenham to her credit. She looks booked for second spot.
Verdict: 1. LAURINA 2. Sensulano
2.25 – Unibet Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle (ITV4)
The feature race is the £50,000 Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle over two miles. Nicky Henderson has won this race on five previous occasions and is strongly fancied to make it six. Rathhill made a pleasing debut when pushed out to beat Nordic Combined at Newbury last month. That earned him a quote of 20-1 for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.
Colin Tizzard has a high opinion of two-time Cheltenham winner Elixir De Nutz. The grey likes to make the running but has been racing on a faster surface than he will encounter this weekend. Grand Sancy ran a fine race for a novice when fourth to Mohaayed in the valuable Betfair Exchange Trophy at Ascot. He had some seasoned campaigners well behind him that day and he is joined by stable companion Southfield Stone. The son of Fair Mix has chalked up a hat-trick at Taunton and now takes a step up in class.
Verdict: 1. RATHHILL 2. Grand Sancy
3.00 – Unibet Veterans Handicap Chase Final (ITV4)
This is the most valuable race of the day with £100,000 in prize money on offer to these popular veteran chasers. The series has proved very popular with punters and both 2017 winner Pete The Feat and 2018 winner Buywise are back in action. Buywise got the better of Pete The Feat by two lengths in heavy ground and is weighted to confirm the form. However, his recent form does not inspire confidence.
Bishops Road ran well when second to Red Infantry at Haydock in November but unseated his rider at the third fence next time. Kerry Lee’s eleven-year-old is at his best when the mud if flying and any further rain would boost his chances. Rock Gone ran well after a lengthy absence when runner-up here behind Loose Chips and enjoys a big pull in the weights with that rival. He should strip fitter on Saturday and comes here with a major chance. Cultram Abbey is another with each-way claims in a very competitive renewal.
Verdict: 1. ROCK GONE (NAP) 2. Cultram Abbey
3.35 – 32Red.com Handicap Hurdle (ITV4)
The finale is a two mile handicap hurdle. Barry Geraghty has been booked to ride Demopolis for Philip Hobbs. He was racing for the first time in almost two years when second to The Big Bite at Haydock in heavy ground. Saintemilion has not raced since finishing third on his debut for Paul Nicholls on Boxing Day 2016.
Our Merlin battled on gamely to hold Snapdragon Fire at Wincanton and was second to Call Me Lord over course and distance in January. A repeat of that form would see him go close and he is only 5lbs higher in the weights. Thistimenextyear looks a big danger, beaten half a length by Shaw’s Cross here last time after hitting the front two out. That was only his fourth start over hurdles and James Bowen will probably look to delay his challenge a little longer this time. Monsieur Lecoq jumped superbly for Lizzie Kelly when easily winning a maiden hurdle at Ffos Las last time and will also have his supporters on his handicap debut.
Verdict: 1. THISTIMENEXTYEAR (nb) 2. Our Merlin