Capitaine, my Capitaine

Ian Ogg analyses the last 10 runnings of Saturday's 32Red Tolworth Novices' Hurdle at Sandown and picks out the key statistics.

Capitaine can win the Tolworth Novices' Hurdle for Paul Nicholls

Nicky Henderson has saddled four of the last six winners of the 32Red Tolworth Novices' Hurdle but opted not to declare his one entry.

Prior to his success, Paul Nicholls had been the man to follow with three winners in this period and four overall. Rather surprisingly given his record in the race, the Ditcheat handler hasn't saddled a single representative in any of the last four renewals and it therefore looks significant that he returns to the fray with Capitaine.

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Already a Grade Two winner, the five-year-old is improving in leaps and bounds if his Ascot victory is taken at face value and there seems little reason to suppose that he was not good value for the race.

His chance is crystal clear but he comes up against a fascinating opponent in Finian's Oscar who is equally highly regarded and who impressed in beating another well-touted individual at Hereford on his Rules debut.

Neither hurdling debutant – Celestial Path and Global Stage – can be considered but any support for Chalonnial would be interesting given trainer Harry Fry saddled the second to Finian's Oscar. His well related five-year-old has impressed on two starts and can be excused his one defeat having failed to handle testing conditions.

Charlemar is also on an upward curve and won more impressively last time than he had at Chepstow but the Aintree second has disappointed since while the Chepstow runner-up was beaten in a handicap off 115 on Wednesday which suggests that he will have to pull out a good deal more.

There is nothing to split the runners on these stats but the record of Nicholls has to swing the vote in favour of Capitaine for all that Colin Tizzard has more strength to his stable than ever before so we are hardly comparing like with like.

  • Winners have been aged 5 (four), 6 (four) and 7 (two).
  • Winners have been priced between 4/9 and 9/1 with five favourites successful.
  • All of the winners finished either first or second on their preceding start.
  • Eight winners had had no more than four preceding starts over hurdles with five running no more than twice.
  • Six winners had been placed on all of their preceding starts over hurdles.
  • None of the winners started their careers on the Flat.
  • Paul Nicholls has saddled three winners.

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