Capitaine favourite for intriguing Tolworth Hurdle
Capitaine and Sam Twiston-Davies on their way to success at Ascot
PICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos) Capitaine favourite for intriguing Tolworth test By Keith Melrose 12:20AM 3 JAN 2017
CAPITAINE, winner of the Kennel Gate Novices' Hurdle at Ascot last month, heads the betting for Saturday's Grade 1 32Red Tolworth Novices' Hurdle at Sandown.
Capitaine gave weight to all but one of his rivals when impressing at Ascot but will not have to make the same concession in the Tolworth, for which the sponsors make him the 9-4 favourite.
Trained by Paul Nicholls for owners Martin Broughton and friends, Capitaine heads a possible field of 11 for the 2m contest and is the only entrant with Graded-race experience over hurdles.
However, Kayf Grace – one of two entrants for the Nicky Henderson yard that has sent out four of the last six winners of the Tolworth – beat Augusta Kate in a Grade 2 mares' bumper at Aintree in April and is rated a 9-2 shot with Paddy Power.
There is even the possibility of two runners without any previous experience over hurdles making their debuts in Saturday's Grade 1, with former pointer Global Stage and classy Flat recruit Celestial Path among the entries.
Global Stage, a 25-1 chance, has one bumper run behind him, while Celestial Path, a Listed winner on the level and third in the 2014 Group 1 Racing Post Trophy for Sir Mark Prescott, would be making his first appearance over jumps for new trainer David Pipe.
Colin Tizzard has been dominant in the big chases this year and gets to unleash a promising hurdler in Finian's Oscar, who is 11-4 second favourite after a comfortable win at Hereford last month.
Also prominent in the betting are unbeaten hurdler Charlemar (7-1), recent Kempton second Mohaayed (7-1) and Chalonnial (10-1). Gaitway, Ballyhill and Man From Mars complete the entries.