Capitaine leads field of six as Kayf Grace misses Tolworth

Capitaine on his way to winning the Kennel Gate at Ascot

PICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos) Capitaine leads field of six for Tolworth Hurdle By Keith Melrose 10:26AM 6 JAN 2017

ANTE-POST favourite Capitaine has been declared in a field of six for Saturday's 32Red Tolworth Novices' Hurdle at Sandown and will not have to face one of his main perceived dangers after Kayf Grace was scratched.

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Capitaine won the Grade 2 Kennel Gate at Ascot just before Christmas, putting in an assured round of jumping. He had been clear favourite early in the week but in recent days has been closed on by Finian's Oscar, whose trainer Colin Tizzard landed several big prizes over the Christmas period.

Finian's Oscar has only a Hereford novice win to his name, but his increasingly powerful connections have made little secret of how highly he is regarded.

"Dad hyped him up beforehand," said assistant trainer Joe Tizzard. "He paid a lot of money for him and potentially he's our best novice at the moment."

Tizzard added: "He was bought with a big reputation from the point-to-point world and he's done everything right since coming to us. You couldn't fault the way he won at Hereford and this is the next step for him.

"We could have gone small again but he deserves to take his chance and we'll see exactly where we are with him."

Capitaine heads the betting at 6-4 with Paddy Power, with Finian's Oscar a general 7-4.

Charlemar heads the challengers

With Kayf Grace out, the main challengers to the first two are set to be Charlemar, unbeaten in two hurdles starts for Harry Whittington and a general 7-1 chance, and Bangor novice winner Chalonnial, who is 9-1 with Paddy Power.

The field is completed by two hurdling debutants. Celestial Path was placed in the Racing Post Trophy for Sir Mark Prescott and will start out for David Pipe, while point winner and bumper second Global Stage goes for Fergal O'Brien. They are 16-1 and 33-1 respectively.

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