Tolworth Hurdle Saturday January 7th 2.50pm
The Tolworth is a Grade 1 Novice Hurdle over two miles at Sandown and whatever wins (with perhaps the exception of mare Kayf Grace) is going to halve in price for the Supreme Hurdle that opens the 2017 Cheltenham Festival and only Moon Racer will be shorter in the market of the Brit’s hoping to repel the Willie Mullins chosen few (he has a dozen or so currently quoted at 25/1 or less!) and the rest of the Irish battalions.
Capitaine heads the market, he sets the standard and will probably set the pace. He wears a hood and has a high head carriage and at Aintree I didn’t think that he was putting it all in but at Ascot when allowed to dominate was impressive with the likes of Captain Forez, Keep in Line and Thomas Campbell unable to reel him in.
The early Ante Post money was all for Finian’s Oscar, 7’s into 11/4, who was very classy winning over half a mile further on hurdling debut at Hereford beating the well thought of Acting Lass. Bought for £250,000 by Alan and Ann Potts I am surprised to see him dropped in trip as he looked a Neptune type and indeed he has an entry at Wincanton on Saturday over 2m 5f where he could run under a penalty.
GG news 19th Dec. 2016 “Finians Oscar Nevertheless, he started at a decent level against odds-on shot Acting Lass but Finian’s Oscar (11-4), from the same family as Nicky Henderson’s Champion Chase winner Finian’s Rainbow, looked in a different league. He cruised to the front under Tom O’Brien, beating the favourite by an unextended seven lengths in the Blackmore Builders Novices’ Hurdle. “He’s a very nice horse and that was straightforward,” said O’Brien. “He gave me a good feel. What makes it exciting is that before we went out, Noel Fehily told me the regard which he holds the second horse in, and Noel is a good judge. He was telling me I’d have to go some to win this but he did it very well. He’s a very nice horse going forward. I’d certainly wish for another go on him. He’s chilled out, has a great attitude and showed the engine.”
Nicky Henderson has a strong record in this race and his main hope would be the mare Kayf Grace receiving seven pounds. She beat Augusta Kate in the Aintree Mares Bumper last April, which reads well. She won on hurdling debut at Bangor, form that has been franked by the second, Return to Base, running a fine second to Coo Star Sivola in a Listed handicap at Cheltenham. I feel this mare will be seen at her best over a longer trip and could be run off her feet here.
However regular readers of this correspondent know there are two things I really like are an improver and “a man with a plan”. In CHARLEMAR and Harry Whittington I believe we have both. The horse won on his hurdling debut in a C4 at Bangor before really taking the eye when running away from a C3 field at Aintree when Harry Whittington suggested the Tolworth would be the plan. This horse jumps, travels and quickens and with Capitaine giving him a lead to the last I think he has plenty going for him and at 7/1 to win on Saturday I think that is a fair price as Charlemar attempts to throw his hat into the Supreme ring.
Here are some press cuttings relating to CHARLEMAR which hopefully strengthen the case for backing him.
CHARLEMAR “I brought him in France. He won at AQPS bumper in April really well. He is owned by the Hennessy Six that owned Arzal. Although he will never replace him, he is the one we went out to buy for the syndicate. He is a proper horse. He is showing a lot of speed. I was kind of wondering whether to keep him in bumpers or go novice hurdling, but he is awesome schooling so we will just crack on over hurdles. Those championship bumpers can be tough on horses and he is four. He is very athletic and is a real natural jumping hurdles. He would be out towards the end of the month over two miles. He will be an exciting novice hurdler for this season. We will leave him from the bigger tracks and bide our time.” Oct. 20th 2016 sportinglife.com Five to Follow
Harry Whittington’s Charlemar (11-4) took his record to three out of four in the Betfred “Happy 50th John McKenna” Novices’ Hurdle. Jonjo O’Neill’s newcomer Minotaur, a Listed winner on the Flat in France, was sent off the 6-5 favourite but having travelled well he made a mess of the last and finished tired, beaten four and a half lengths. “I was thrilled with that and I don’t really know how good he is because he shows us absolutely nothing at home,” said Whittington. “He just loves jumping, he finds it all so easy. “Aidan (Coleman) said he’ll make a proper chaser so we’ll just look after him this year and go novice chasing next season.” When told his winner was receiving quotes for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, he replied: “I was hoping to get a mark for the Betfair (Hurdle)!” Racing UK News Sat. 3rd Dec.
Charlemar “won in impressive fashion on his 2nd start for the yard at Aintree on Saturday. He jumped off in 2nd under jockey Aidan Coleman, but his slick jumping meant he soon found his way to the front. He travelled powerfully throughout the contest and when Aidan wound the pace up from the back straight his jumping put his rivals under real pressure. He winged down the home straight and picked up well after the last to record a smooth 6 length win. It was a very professional performance and he’s a hugely exciting prospect going forward. His next run could be the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown in January.” Harry Whittington latest news 9th Dec. 2016
Whittington said of Charlemar, who most recently impressed under a penalty in a novice event at Aintree: “It’s very much the plan to run on Saturday. We gave him an entry at Kempton last week, but that was just a back-up and the Tolworth has been plan A since Aintree.” Tom Pepper The Sun on-line 2nd Jan. 2017 2.38pm
SimpleSimonSays49…003 4th Jan.