The Tolworth Hurdle – Analysis of the First British Grade 1 of 2022
Runner-By-Runner Guide to the Weekends Big Race
The first British Grade 1 of the year is fast approaching. Sandown plays host to the Tolworth Hurdle on Saturday, a key trial for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. There is a hot favourite for this year’s renewal, but what does our editor make of the horses at hand?
In terms of races under rules, Nicky Henderson’s CONSTITUTION HILL is the least experienced in the field and yet is a very warm order to earn Grade 1 honours on just his second hurdles start.
That is because few horses have produced as impressive a performance as he did on debut over course and distance last month. Off a generous pace, he quickened clear in scintillating fashion, beating the previously reputable Might I by 14 lengths, all of which he gained after the last hurdle.
Nico De Boinville said he simply came alive when put into the clear before the final flight and he is the only horse in this field with serious star potential. Five of the last seven favourites have been victorious and he will be the shortest price of the bunch.
As the current second favourite for the Supreme at the Cheltenham Festival, it is only inexperience which is likely to cause him any issues.
Without a win in bumpers, but without a defeat yet over hurdles, DATSALRIGHTGINO has won the strongest race of any in this field so far.
That came at Cheltenham last month, in which he won a Class 3 novice hurdle against a field of similarly capable types. In terms of depth, it had more to it than any race any other horse has contested.
Another benefit to that run was how well he rallied in the closing stages, seeing out his challenge up the hill better than his rivals. That should bode well on softer ground and against better rivals as long as he can maintain his pitch.
However, all five in that race finished within 10 lengths and that possibly suggests the level they are all at: useful, but short of top class.
Ryan Potter has never had a runner in a Graded race before, so JETOILE will be breaking new ground for him on Saturday.
He was winless in four point to points and so having joined a relatively unglamorous yard, it was probably no surprise that he went off at 80/1 for his hurdling debut at Cheltenham in October.
He belied those odds, however, finishing third despite racing keenly. He has since made amends and won two on the bounce at Chepstow and Leicester, the second under a penalty and on soft ground.
That was over further, but he has been progressive and it is often tough to weigh up novice hurdle form at this stage of the season. He is certainly not out of place and could make the frame.
This is a very interesting change of tack from Paul Nicholls, with MR GLASS taking a major step back in trip after winning over 2m 6f at Newcastle at the end of November.
He barely scraped home in that race despite being odds on, but he was under a penalty and connections may well have felt it stretched is stamina too much.
Stepping right the way back to two miles, there is reason to be encouraged, as he won a bumper at Wetherby very easily in December 2020. The runner-up won a maiden hurdle on his next start and that also came on heavy ground.
Given Nicholls initially saw him as a horse for further, there is still concern that he may not have the pace, but he has won his last four starts and has been favourite for all of his rules races.
For the same connections as Goshen, you’d have been forgiven for thinking you were watching his clone for a while at Ascot.
Pulling hard from the front, SHALLWEHAVEONEMORE travelled like the winner until after the final hurdle on his debut at Ascot, only to completely run out of puff right when it mattered.
That suggested he has plenty of ability, which he also showed when winning a Kempton bumper back in March. It was disappointing that he could not win, but he was as visually impressive as all bar the favourite for much of the way.
He will not get away with running as keenly again and there is unlikely to be a lot of pace in the race. He is a candidate for the frame if Jamie Moore can get him to settle.
A Grade 1 declaration for your first jumps race is some show of faith, so Dr Richard Newland must imagine WHIZZ KID has significant ability.
The promise is there on his flat form, which came in France from the German base of Peter Schiergen. He was a dual winner on the level in 2021 and was talented enough to go off 9/2 for a Listed contest at Saint-Cloud.
Without knowing his jumping technique, it is impossible to know from an outside perspective where he will fit in. For now, just watch him and make a note of any positives and negatives.
Big Race Verdict – Constitution Hill/Mr Glass Forecast
There is no reason to oppose CONSTITUTION HILL and all racing fans will surely be hoping he is as electric as he was on debut. However, at the prices, recommending him alone at such short odds is worth crumbs and instead, the more competitive race for second could be more interesting. If he settles, Shallwehaveonemore could even give the favourite a race on a favourable reading, but he needs to settle much better than on his hurdles debut. As such, Mr Glass may be the safer option even though he has been racing over further, as his bumper form on heavy is encouraging for this test.