First Gr1 Today

Some quality international racing

The first UK Group 1 of 2023 takes place at Sandown  today with the running of the Unibet Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle (16h25).

Eight runners are carded to jump away from the 2 mile start with track conditions forecast as soft.

The Irish are represented by the Henry de Bromhead trained Arctic Bresil, an impressive winner of a maiden hurdle at Cork last month. This pacey sort could be dangerous with Rachael Blackmore aboard and connections will be happy with the soft ground.

However, this contest looks to be between Authorised Speed and Tahmuras.

Tahmuras trained by the in-form Paul Nicholls has won both his starts over hurdles in easy fashion and is officially the highest rated runner. Still a bit immature in his races, this stiffer test could bring about further improvement.

Gary Moore saddles Authorised Speed and is hoping home advantage can pay off. The 6-year-old was an impressive 6 and a half length winner here a month ago in a novice hurdle when racing under a penalty. Previously, he showed his class when finishing fifth in last season’s Champion Bumper at Cheltenham, behind champion Facile Vega. His form together with course experience tips the balance in his favour and he is selected to come home in front.

On Sunday in Ireland nine novices’ contest the Lawlor’s of Naas Novice Hurdle (16h20) run over 2 and a half miles. With rain about, soft going is also forecast for this Group 1 fixture.

Gavin Cromwell is hopeful that a step up in trip will suit the JP McManus-owned five-year-old Inothewayurthinkin, who skipped the Leopardstown Christmas festival having been aimed here.

A son of Walk in the Park, Inothewayurthinkin is unbeaten in two hurdle contests over two miles at both Gowran Park and Cork.

Cromwell thinks a lot of the 5-year-old stating: “He’s in very good nick at the moment, and the step up in trip should suit him. It’s a big step forward in a tough and competitive race, but we’re very happy with him and he should go well.”

Cromwell hopes to win the race for the first time, whereas Willie Mullins is looking for an eighth Lawlor’s of Naas success.

The champion trainer has two entries, the unbeaten Grangeclare West and Champ Kiely. Stable jockey Paul Townend, successful last time out with the Cheveley Park owned Grangeclare West retains the ride and that looks the way to go. Inothewayurthinkin does look progressive and should complete the exacta.

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