Our racing analyst Kevin O’Malley returns to the Weekend Ante-Post fore with a 14/1 selection in Sandown Park’s feature Grade 1 on Saturday afternoon…
The Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown Park is the first Grade 1 of 2019 and in a race that will increase in profile after 2018 winner Summerville Boy went onto win the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, all eyes will be on the Esher venue for the 2.25pm feature on Saturday afternoon. Nicky Henderson’s Rathhill, apparently, has “had this race in mind” since before making his racecourse debut at Newbury last month, where he ran out a ready winner of the 20-runner contest. In terms of speed and ratings, very little about the performance suggested Rathhill is anything but a well above prospect, but he is of course priced accordingly.
The same can be said of dual-Cheltenham winner Elixir De Nutz, who is 3/1 and has backed that up with two quality efforts recently. But both were a very different test to Sandown and he might just be vulnerable to improver here.
One such improver, albeit a busily campaigned, slow-burning one, is the Paul Nicholls trained GRAND SANCY, a 5yo thriving just now. I don’t know if connections will see fit to let this horse take his chance in Grade 1 company, but I’d be excited to see what he can do and think he’s most definitely earned a pop at the race. In five starts so far this season, his Racing Post Ratings read as follows: 129, 135, 135, 137, 139. His last last two Topspeed figures of 121 and 125 mark him down as a novice with undeniable pace and class. Grand Sancy ran a cracker to finish 4th in a Grade 3 Handicap at Ascot last month, running with real credit in a race filled with quality, experienced opponents. That effort produced the latest RPR of 139 and TS 125, by comparison to Rathhill’s 135 & 105 RPR/TS combo on his debut.
Rathhill is clearly open to any amount of improvement, but at 10/1 to 14/1 readily available on Grand Sancy, versus the 11/8 to 2/1 on Henderson’s JP McManus owned runner, there is only one bet to be had. Grand Sancy is fit, improving and running for a Paul Nicholls stable that can do little wrong just now. He hasn’t won the race since Breedsbreeze in 2008, but is knocking on the door with Capitaine and Mont Des Avaloirs placing the past two years. Southfield Stone looks the stable number one with Harry Cobden booked to ride, but I’m happy for Sam Twiston-Davies to ride the selection, provided he is declared to run.
You can get in touch with me via email: Kevin.OMalley@GG.CO.UK OR by finding me on Twitter: @KOM_GGRacing