Sandown Park starts the new year of racing in style with a great card headlined by this Grade 1, the Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle. First run in 1976, this two mile hurdle sees some of the most talented horses over the smaller obstacles compete at the Surrey track.
This race was won in 1984 by Desert Orchid, prior to his switch to chasing. Summerville Boy was the latest horse to win here before Cheltenham glory, adding the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle to his Tolworth crown in 2018.
Next Race: Saturday, 2nd January 2021
The next race is scheduled to run on 2nd January 2021. The race info, trends and tips shown below will be updated for the next renewal once the final declarations have been made.
Last Run: 4th January 2020
- Winner: Fiddleontheroof
- SP: 5/4
- Trainer: Colin Tizzard
- Jockey: Robbie Power
Two miles is the trip for this Grade 1 novice’ hurdle contest which offers £50,000 in guaranteed prize money. The ground at the track is currently described as soft and, with the forecast relatively clear in the build up to the race, this isn’t expected to deteriorate.
|Going||Distance||Grade||Prize Money||Runners||EW Terms|
|Soft||2m||Grade 1||£50,000||8 Runners||1/4 1-2|
Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle Betting Tips
Note: The following tips are from the last running of the race. Tips for the next renewal will be added once the final declarations have been made.
Colin Tizzard has done particularly well in this race in recent times, with two wins in the past three years. That 2016 success of Finian’s Oscar was actually the Dorset handler’s first ever win in the race, but judging by the market at least Tizzard has every chance of making it three wins in double quick time as he saddles the current market leader, Fiddlerontheroof.
As good as Tizzard’s recent performance has been, it is fellow big gun Nicky Henderson who boasts the best overall record in the race, with five wins in total – four of which have come in the last nine years. Henderson sends the hat-trick-seeking Son Of Camas into battle this time around.
Real shocks have been rare in the past decade here, with no winner returning a double figure SP over this period. Four of the past nine editions have been landed by the market leader, but due to the relatively short prices of these winners, blindly backing the favourite would still have returned a loss of just over 1.50 points.
FIDDLERONTHEROOF – 2/1
Having finished in the frame in each of his final three starts for previous handler John Walsh, this six year old son of Stowaway has continued that run of consistency since joining his current handler. Second on each of his first two starts for Tizzard – when running into the useful duo of Thyme Hill and Edwardstone – he managed to get his head in front at the third time of asking, when cantering to a seven length success in a Class 3 contest last time out.
Clearly it is quite a step up from a Class 3 into a Grade 1, but significantly that last time out success did come over this course and distance, so we need have no concerns regarding the track or trip with this one. Holding an entry in each of the big three novice events at the Cheltenham Festival, he is clearly held in some regard and the likelihood is that there’s plenty more to come.
SON OF CAMAS – 3/1
To say that this Nicky Henderson runner didn’t show all that much in his Bumper debut last season is something of an understatement. Sent off a very warm 2/1 favourite in a 19-runner event at Punchestown, he had clearly been showing plenty at home. The Creachadoir gelding showed rather less in the race itself – trailing home last of the 19, and fully 176-lengths adrift of the winner at the line. That run looked too bad to be true, and in fairness to the horse, he was found to be clinically abnormal after the race.
Fast forward to the current campaign, and the support for the horse was understandably a little more tentative ahead of his Bumper return at Newbury. This time however the outcome was much more favourable, as he powered away for a two-length success. Having backed that up with an equally impressive win on hurdling bow at that same track, being proven on soft ground, and hailing from such a powerful yard, he ticks plenty of boxes.
HANG IN THERE – 11/4
Son Of Camas isn’t the only runner heading into the race seeking a hattrick though. Also arriving on something of a roll is the Emma Lavelle trained six year old, Hang In There. Having joined the yard from the Mags Mullins operation back in October, he made something of an inauspicious start to life in Britain. Sent off at odds-on at Exeter, he succeeded only in depositing jockey Adam Wedge into the turf.
He was given another crack at that same track next time out, when he was most impressive. Jumping much better and doing all his own donkey work on the front end, nothing could live with him that day. Looking a class apart when sauntering seven lengths clear of the field in the straight, it was no surprise to see him stepped into a Grade 2 run at Cheltenham last time out. The Grade may have been significantly higher, but the outcome was much the same that day as he made all to score by three lengths – showing really impressive mid-race pace to effectively put the contest to bed. That looks the single best piece of form on offer for our money and he looks the one to be on at the prices.
Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle Winners
|2020||Fiddleontheroof||5/4||Colin Tizzard||Robbie Power|
|2019||Elixir Du Nutz||3/1||Colin Tizzard||Tom O'Brien|
|2018||Summerville Boy||8/1||Tom George||Noel Fahily|
|2017||Finian's Oscar||11/10||Colin Tizzard||Tom O'Brien|
|2016||Yorkhill||4/9||Willie Mullins||Ruby Walsh|
|2015||L'Ami Serge||4/9||Nicky Henderson||Barry Geraghty|
|2014*||Royal Boy||9/1||Nicky Henderson||A P McCoy|
|2013||Melodic Rendezvous||7/2||Jeremy Scott||Nick Scolfield|
|2012||Captain Conan||9/1||Nicky Henderson||Barry Gergahty|
|2011||Minella Class||9/1||Nicky Henderson||Barry Gerghty|
*2014 race took place at Kempton in January after frost led to the cancellation of racing at Sandown.
About the Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle: Excellence In Esher
The National Hunt season is of course in full swing by the time December turns to January each year and, with the festive season now out of the way, the thoughts of many will no doubt be turning to the Cheltenham Festival in March. There are of course many top-level contests to be taken in before the greatest four days in the sport roll around – many of which can often prove influential to those showpiece events at Prestbury Park. One such race, particularly when it comes to the novice hurdling division, is this event which is held at the Esher venue of Sandown Park in early January.
Sandown is a track which certainly lends plenty of support to the inexperienced national hunt performers, with three of the five Grade 1 contests to take place at the track each season being novice affairs. This tops the bill when it comes to hurdling though, with the race being the only top-level event over the smaller obstacles to be held at the track.
First run back in 1976, and named in honour of the nearby town of Tolworth (whose only other claim to fame as far as we can see is that Eric Clapton attended school there), this is a Grade 1 event open to novice hurdlers aged four years old and above.
Considering the time of year that this event takes place, it perhaps isn’t too surprising to learn that the vagaries of the British weather has wreaked a degree of havoc over the years. The race was abandoned entirely in 1979, 1982, 1994, 1997, 2009 and 2010, whilst Ascot (2001), Warwick (2002), Wincanton (2003) and Kempton Park (2014) have all stepped in as alternative venues in times of need.
Future Stars On Show
Invariably attracting a field of the most promising young chasers in training, the race is certainly well worth keeping an eye on with a view to the big races ahead. Summerville Boy (Supreme Novices’ Hurdle), French Holly (RSA Chase) and Yorkhill (Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle and JLT Chase) all went on to future Cheltenham Festival success having earlier displayed their potential in this race.
The greatest winner in the race’s history though is of course everyone’s favourite grey: the Gold Cup and four time King George winning superstar Desert Orchid, who took this in 1984.
Not Too Young, But Not Too Old
In common with many races of this type, the four year olds receive a weight allowance in this event – being required to carry 10st9lb, whilst those aged five and older are shouldered with 11st7lb.
Has this proven to be a winning advantage for the younger runners? The evidence in the above chart would suggest not, with the five and six year olds boasting a pretty dominant record. It should however be noted that the majority of the entries do tend to come from this five to six year old age bracket, so this trend is perhaps not quite so strong as it may appear at first glance.
Big Names On Top
It may have been with us since back in the 1970’s, but the best records in this race – when it comes to training performance – have come since the turn of the century. Nicky Henderson, Paul Nicholls and Colin Tizzard are certainly no strangers to Grade 1 success – with the first two named in particular being involved in a seemingly annual head to head battle for the trainer’s title – and they have certainly made their presence felt in this race. It is Henderson who leads the way as of 2020 with five wins in all in this race.