Sandown Hosts Sole UK Gr1

Saturday: First of seven races is off at 14h05

After all the Group One racing in Britain and Ireland over the Christmas and New Year weekends, Sandown Park hosts the sole Gr1 race in the UK on Saturday with the running of the Unibet Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle.

The race is run over 2 miles and ground conditions are likely to be soft, heavy in places.

The feature event starts at 16h25 with the Nicky Henderson trained Constitution Hill hard to oppose in a field of six.

The lightly-raced five-year-old has only had one start under rules but could hardly have been more impressive when powering 14 lengths clear of Might I over course and distance last month.

It was a really taking debut performance, not just because of the distance back to the second horse. Might I, the runner-up was also still travelling well after jumping the last hurdle, and Harry Fry’s runner was an impressive winner of his hurdling debut.

Stable jockey Nico de Boinville is aboard once more in this £70,000 contest and a victory here would see his ante-post odds for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the festival shortening.

Opposition include the champion trainer Paul Nicholls trained Mr Glass, who is seeking his fifth consecutive win following success at Newcastle in November.

However, the runner to follow the favourite home looks to be the Gary Moore trained Shallwehaveonemore, last seen at Ascot in October.

He beat the well-regarded Walking On Air in a bumper on debut at Kempton last year and followed that up on his hurdling debut when an unlucky second.

He raced too freely for the first half of the race and still looked to have the race in hand coming to the last, but his early exertions told in the final strides.

The form was boosted when the third home, Peking Rose won at Newbury by 11 lengths on Saturday and Fine Casting (sixth) has also won since.

Earlier on the card, trainer Jamie Snowden will be represented in the Listed Unibet 3 Uniboosts A Day Mares’ Hurdle (14h40) with Anythingforlove, who landed the Gr2 Jane Seymour Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle over course and distance last season.

“She needs pretty deep ground and we didn’t have it when we went chasing with her in the autumn, but we dropped her back over hurdles at Ffos Las in her favoured conditions and she won very nicely,” said Snowden.

“It’s a competitive race but she might have a chance if she can reproduce the kind of effort that saw her win the Grade 2.”

She faces only four rivals with two of those, Skyace and Gauloise, raiding from Ireland. Skyace, trained by Shark Hanlon has lost her form over the last 12 months, and the selection is for the six-year-old Willie Mullins trained mare Gauloise.

Racing in the same silks as the top-class Honeysuckle, Gauloise has only raced six times over hurdles (winning three) and won on her final start in a listed event at Punchestown last season. The Mullins yard, currently on a winning strike rate of 29% over the last fortnight, look to add to that tally.

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