Stuart Williams takes an in-depth look at the runners for the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown on Saturday.
Tolworth Hurdle Preview & Runners Guide
This race has often gone the way of messers Tizzard, who has saddled the winner 3 times in the last 4 years, Henderson, who has landed the spoils 4 times in the last 10 years (5 wins in total), or Nicholls, who provided the winner on 4 occasions between 2003 and 2008, in recent history, however, none are represented in 2021, leaving the way clear for others to have a swipe at this prestigious Grade 1 prize.
Of the eight trainers represented on Saturday, only Oliver Sherwood has landed this contest previously, and that success came way back in 1991 courtesy of Change The Act. The master of Rhonehurst stables will saddle hurdling debutant Grandeur D'Ame this weekend, who must be showing plenty at home to convince connections that he is up to competing at this level in spite of his lack of experience.
I don't think it would be outrageous to suggest that this may not be the classiest of renewals and I'm not sure that it will have a huge impact upon the betting for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle - cue an ultra-impressive 30 lengths romp! However, it is competitive and should make for interesting viewing.
Without further ado, let's take a look at all eight contenders in a bit more detail.
Tolworth Hurdle Runners
Metier was rated 88 when trained by Andrew Slattery on the flat and his two impressive victories at Newton Abbott and Ascot suggest that he has transferred all of his ability to the jumping game.
Already rated 142 in this sphere, which is at least 6lbs superior to his 7 rivals on Saturday, Metier was visually impressive when winning his two outings by a combined distance of fifteen-and-a-half-lengths and he could easily prove a cut above his opposition this weekend. However, the runner-up at Newton Abbott was well held next time out, and the second and third at Ascot are yet to been seen since. Therefore it's hard to fully understand exactly what he has achieved thus far.
That said, Harry Fry has his string in fine form at present and this does appear to have been the target ever since Ascot. All three of his career victories to date have been achieved on testing ground and he most certainly rates and exciting prospect ahead of this Grade 1 contest.
Galice Macalo kept good company when failing to land a blow in juvenile hurdles last season, however, she has clearly benefited greatly for her long summer at grass and was only narrowly denied by a hugely progressive rival when placing second in a Listed handicap hurdle over this course and distance on Tingle Creek day.
Jane Williams' promising youngster proved that she could handle testing ground on that occasion having won her two previous outings on a far sounder surface. The form of those victories looks reasonably solid, in particular her first success when defeating subsequent dual scorer Marada. Therefore she is most certainly a big player in this open Grade 1 contest, especially in receipt of 7lbs from all of her rivals (mares allowance).
Do Your Job
Do Your Job has appreciated dropping back to the minimum distance this autumn and found only subsequent Grade 2 runner-up Llandinabo Lad too good when placing second in a Listed novice hurdle at Haydock in November.
David Bridgwater's progressive Fame And Glory gelding had subsequent easy scorers Cadzand and Wetlands well in arrears at Ayr in October, and he displayed a good attitude when mastering Philip Hobbs' promising recruit Truckers Pass on his seasonal reappearance at Ffos Las.
Clearly this represents another rise up the ladder and further improvement will be necessary. However, he jumps well and has rock-solid form in the book. Therefore he should not be underestimated.
Although connections feel that Adrimel may be seen to best effect over further in fullness of time, they have had this race in mind ever since his successful hurdling debut over this course and distance in November, and the testing conditions will naturally bring his increased stamina into play.
Tom Lacey has done little to hide the regard in which he holds the former point-to-point winner, who cost connections an eye-watering £280,000 at the Aintree Sales in April 2019. His only defeat to date came in the Cheltenham Festival bumper and he has won both of his starts over hurdles in commanding fashion, suggesting that he is well up to competing in this higher grade.
Adrimel appears to have a big future ahead of him and undoubtedly possesses the ability to feature prominently in this Grade 1 contest. A strong pace throughout, which looks likely given the presence of Do Your Job and Shakem Up'Arry, will certainly be in his favour.
Second season novice Shakem Up'Arry chased home both impressive Sandown handicap scorer Mister Coffey and the hugely exciting Shishkin at Newbury last season before being well held in the Grade 1 Ballymore Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
Ben Pauling's promising son of Flemensfirth got off mark at Ffos Las in November before placing fourth in a competitive two-and-a-half-mile handicap hurdle at Haydock off a mark of 130, which is certainly valuable experience that should stand too him on Saturday.
Dropping back to 2 miles on testing ground should not be an issue. However, he will almost certainly require a career best effort in order to be competitive.
Smurphy Enki was supported into favouritism when placing fourth behind I Am Maximus, subsequent Garde 2 scorer My Drogo and Tile Tapper in a competitive bumper at Cheltenham in October, and, following a neck defeat at Chepstow on his hurdling debut, he proved far superior to an average field at Plumpton in December.
Chris Gordon's Blue Bresil gelding was 0-4 in point-to-point's but has clearly settled into life under rules much better, and the fact that connections are ready to pitch him into such a contest is a clear indication of their faith in him.
Needless to say this represents a huge rise in class. However, he is only rated 10lbs inferior to the top rates Metier and is naturally open to any amount of improvement.
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Grandeur D'Ame sluiced through the heavy ground when making a successful bumper debut at Newton Abbott in October and was only narrowly denied in Listed company at Cheltenham in November, when finishing a short head in-front of a previous dual scorer and one-and-a-half-lengths behind a potentially smart rival whom hailed from a yard in top form.
It goes without saying that these are deep waters in which to make your hurdling debut. However, clearly connections feel that he is up to this level and it's fair to say that this isn't the strongest race for the grade. Interestingly, the last horse to make a successful hurdling debut in Grade 1 company was Right Win in this very contest in 1996. Perhaps lightening can strike twice?
Tile Tapper defeated subsequent dual hurdles scorer Bobhopeornohope when landing an Exeter Bumper in January and he returned to action with a solid third placed effort at Cheltenham in October, when attempting to concede 4lbs to the potentially smart winner I Am Maximus and subsequent Ascot Grade 2 scorer My Drogo, which was clearly a very good effort.
Chris Honour's Malinas gelding chased home the aforementioned Metier at Ascot in November and clearly connections feel that he worth taking on again, albeit on 5lbs worse terms.
Tile Tapper is naturally entitled to improve for that experience and he is already proven on testing ground. Therefore he could easily outperform market expectations
Tolworth Hurdle Tips
Metier is the natural starting point here and may already have one hand on the prize if official ratings are anything to go by. However, it's hard to know exactly what he has achieved thus far, and he is definitely opposable at the prices.
Galice Macalo and Adrimel boast course and distance form and are greatly respected for their incredibly shrewd handlers. While Shakem Up'Arry has some impressive form in the book and could be interesting under a prominent ride.
However, DO YOUR JOB arguably boasts some of the best form on offer and has been freshened up since chasing home the smart Llandinabo Lad at Haydock in November. The form of his penultimate outing at Ayr looks very solid indeed and he could prove tough to pass if jumping well once again.
Grandeur D'Ame is also an intriguing contender in spite of his lack of experience. We already know that he handles testing ground and clearly connections feel that he is good enough to take up this engagement. Therefore he may represent good each-way value if all eight face the starter.
Tolworth Hurdle Entries
- Do Your Job
- Grandeur Dame
- Shakem Up’Arry
- Smurphy Enki
- Tile Tapper
- Galice Macalo
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