Capitaine ready for Tolworth test
Views from connections ahead of the 32Red Tolworth Novices' Hurdle at Sandown on Saturday.
Capitaine goes for the Tolworth
Capitaine bids to give trainer Paul Nicholls a fifth victory in the 32Red Tolworth Novices' Hurdle at Sandown on Saturday.
Although he was turned over at short odds on his penultimate start at Haydock, the five-year-old grey made amends with a game frontrunning success in a Grade Two at Ascot last month.
Nicholls, who last claimed the Tolworth with Breedsbreeze in 2008, said: "Hopefully he is up there with my past winners as he is a proper horse.
"As I said before, we got the tactics totally wrong at Haydock when he got beat there but we've always thought a lot of him.
"We let him bowl along in front last time and he was very good.
"He wouldn't want too much rain. Hopefully he will run well again.
"He is another horse for the future."
Finian's Oscar justified his tall reputation when he made a winning start for Colin Tizzard at Hereford last month.
Jockey Tom O'Brien said: "He was straightforward and uncomplicated at Hereford.
"He couldn't have done it any better and he looks a very exciting prospect.
"He ran through the line like a full horse. Harry Fry really fancied his horse (Acting Lass) in that race and he brushed him aside easily.
"He's ready for a step up in grade. It was soft ground when he won and he made it feel lovely.
"When they do that, they can handle dig in the ground, no problem."
Harry Whittington believes unbeaten hurdler Charlemar has taken another step forward since adding to his Chepstow success at Aintree last month.
Whittington said: "I think he's improved since Aintree.
"I said that day that he hadn't been working that well at home, but his work has improved, so I think he got some confidence off the back of that.
"It looks quite an open race on Saturday. There are probably two or three in it who could be a bit special. I think we're all in the same boat.
"Capitaine is a horse I like and Finian's Oscar was impressive at Hereford, so it will be tough to win, but it is a Grade One so that's what you expect.
"Our horse is in good form and we're very much looking forward to it."
Useful Flat performer Celestial Path faces a warm introduction to hurdles as he makes his first start for David Pipe.
The five-year-old finished fifth in the 2000 Guineas two years ago has not been seen since claiming sixth place in last season's Cambridgeshire on his final start for Sir Mark Prescott.
Pipe said: "He was a good horse on the Flat, but this is a tough ask on his first run over hurdles.
"He's quite quirky, but has plenty of pace, as you would expect.
"We'll see how he gets on and if he gets two miles."
Harry Fry is keen on the prospects of Chalonnial, but he is well aware the five-year-old needs to kick on from last month's debut win over hurdles at Bangor.
Fry said: "He's a nice sort and a horse we like a lot.
"He's only had the one run for us at Bangor. He was good that day and Noel was very impressed with him.
"It's a big step up into a Grade One, though."
Fergal O'Brien is keeping his fingers crossed that plenty of rain arrives at the track to give Global Stage the chance to make his hurdling debut, having finished second in a bumper on his first start for the Naunton handler at Haydock in November.
He said: "If we get the rain that will turn soft or heavy that will put him in there as I would like the ground to be a bit softer.
"He run very well in his bumper at Haydock and the third horse (Cadeyrn) who we beat a long way has since won at Chepstow.
"He has just turned six but has had a few point-to-point starts so he knows his job.
"He has been working well but he is a big, strong tank of a horse that will be a chaser."