A competitive race is in store at Kempton when the Tolworth Hurdle finally gets its turn in the spotlight after being washed out at Sandown on January 4th.
Trainer Nicky Henderson heads to Surrey double-handed with Josses Hill and Royal Boy both entered to land the Seven Barrows man his third victory in four years, following on from Minella Class in 2011 and Captain Conan in 2012.
However his duo, of which Royal Boy wasn’t considered for the original Sandown card, will face stiff competition in the face of Supreme Novices’ Hurdle fancies Irving and The Liquidator.
The Paul Nicholls-trained Irving is a 12/1 shot for the Cheltenham Festival’s curtain raiser and arrives for the Tolworth having won three consecutive outings over hurdles, the last of which came by a comfortable six-length margin at Ascot.
David Pipe’s The Liquidator can also be snapped up at 12/1 in the Supreme Novices’ ante-post prices and has a perfect two-from-two record over hurdles ahead of the Kempton run.
Both are expected to be major factors come Cheltenham’s opening day but their performance in the Tolworth shouldn’t be taken too seriously when the time comes to cast votes on who will win at the Festival.
The last three times that a top four finisher in the Tolworth ran in the Supreme none of them went on to finish first in the big one.
Colour Squadron was the last horse to attempt the feat, having been pipped by a short head by Captain Conan in the 2012 Sandown race before finishing a 14/1 13th in the Supreme come March.
Deep Purple, who backed up a second place in the Tolworth with a ninth at Cheltenham in 2008, and De Soto, who matched his fourth at Sandown in the Supreme, also failed to make the grade after the Surrey trial.
In fact the last horse to successfully break the tape at both races was the Paul Nicholls-trained Noland in 2006.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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