With the Christmas and New Year racing now in the rearview mirror, we embark on the second half of the jumps racing season. The Tolworth Hurdle marks the midpoint of the season for many racing fans as the build-up for the big spring festivals at Leopardstown, Cheltenham and Aintree begins. The Tolworth is an important race in its own right and it is the feature of ITV Racing’s coverage from Sandown and Wincanton on Saturday afternoon.
With a busy day of racing ahead of us, let’s waste no time getting stuck into finding some winners. We’ve picked out tips from all eight of the live ITV races in this week’s Saturday Racing Tips.
1:30 Leonna Mayor New House Celebration Handicap Hurdle
Class 5, 1m7f
When trainers give stable tours to various media outlets they can sometimes be a little bit effusive in their praise for their horses. It’s when you hear a moment of honesty from a trainer that you should really take note, like when Anthony Honeyball said that Midnight Callisto struggled last year because she did not respect her hurdles enough. Honeyball hoped that a combination of a wind operation and some schooling over fences would help whip Midnight Callisto into shape and you’d have to say the results have been encouraging.
The seven year old has improved with each of her runs so far this season to the point that she looked a horse ready to win last time out. While the handicapper has raised her five pounds for that second place at Taunton, Midnight Callisto is improving enough to suggest she can take that in her stride and win the opening ITV race of the day at odds of 11/2
1:50 Unibet Horserace Betting Operator Of The Year Handicap Chase
Class 2, 1m7½f
Betting for the Unibet Horserace Betting Operator Of The Year Handicap Chase revolves around one key question: can you give Gunsight Ridge another chance? Olly Murphy’s seven year old has been sent off as the favourite in each of his last four races and failed to win any of them. It is possible to find excuses for those runs but it’s a very different thing to back him to prevail in this one.
Most of Gunsight Ridge’s six opponents have claims on beating the favourite but it is Moonlighter who stands out at a fair price of 6/1. The Nick Williams inmate has also had a tough time of it in terms of results of late but there have been positive signs, most notably when running in fifth at Cheltenham last time out. He has come down in the weights for running three times without a win and Moonlighter’s current handicap mark of 141 is certainly workable.
2:05 Advanced Biotech UK Award Winning CBD Handicap Chase
Class 3, 1m7½f
Sam Allwood was quietly happy with the performances of Out On The Tear in his first two races. Finishes of fourth and fifth in Class 3 handicaps didn’t immediately catch the eye but he progressed between those two runs and took advantage of a drop down in standard to Class 4 level last time out to win at Catterick.
It is back up to Class 3 company for Out On The Tear on Saturday. That will necessitate a better performance and he won’t be able to go on and win as he liked as he did at Catterick. The eight year old is not scared of a tough race though and has enough stamina to come on strongly again on the softer ground at Wincanton. The price of 10/1 is more than appealing for an each way bet.
2:25 Unibet Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle
Grade 1, 2m
Nicky Henderson has an excellent record in the Tolworth Hurdle. Nobody has won the two-mile Grade 1 contest more times than the master of Seven Barrows and he has an excellent chance of improving on that record and winning the race for the first time since 2015 on Saturday. Constitution Hill couldn’t have been more impressive when winning over course and distance last time out and he is available at a best price of 2/5 to win again.
Constituion Hill was cut to odds of 4/1 for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. With just five opponents at Sandown this should prove to be a successful warm-up ahead of Cheltenham but there isn’t much point taking the prohibitively short odds available. Instead, back Datsalrightgino each way at a chunkier price of 16/1. Jamie Snowden has been very happy with his six year old’s form so far this season. Wind surgery in the summer seems to have helped and while he isn’t a top-level performer, he looks to have enough to beat all but Constitution Hill on Saturday and earn a return for his supporters.
2:40 rapidcharge.com Leading Ev Charging Solution Handicap Hurdle
Class 3, 2m5½f
It has already been a successful season for Getalead. The six year old kicked off his campaign with a second-place finish at Wincanton before reeling off a hat-trick of wins. The handicapper was always going to take note of that sort of winning run but a 10-pound rise in the weights is on the lenient side.
True, Getalead was unable to maintain his winning run when going for the four-timer at Taunton last time but he didn’t look overly troubled by the weight that day. It was an inability to come out of a flat spot that cost him but he came out of the race looking as though he was not done winning yet. The soft ground at Wincanton will pose another challenge but it is one that Getalead can navigate to win again at odds of 9/1.
3:00 Unibet Veterans’ Handicap Chase
Class 2, 3m
The joy of National Hunt racing – as opposed to Flat racing – is the number of horses who return year on year. The popularity of older horses means it comes as little surprise that the Veterans’ Chase Series has been such a success since its introduction in 2019. This is finale of the series and it has been well supported with 13 high-quality horses in the field.
12 of those horses are going to need their best performances if they are to stop bookies’ favourite Aso. He showed that he is around a very workable mark when running in second last time out, however, this may not be the ideal race for him. It’s a slight drop back in trip on ground with less give in it so the favourite can be taken on. Sir Ivan is the most appealing option at the odds. Third in last year’s race, he has run well in all three of his outings this season and a mark of 140 is not overly penal. As long as he jumps well, this bold performer can get it done from the front at a nice price of 10/1.
3:15 Art Of Outdoor With Ocean Handicap Chase
Class 2, 2m4f
The veterans at Sandown will only just have finished by the time the next race gets going at Wincanton. It is fitting, therefore, that the standout option in the betting for this intermediate chase is 10 year old Slate House. There is no doubt that he is much better over fences than hurdles so makes plenty of appeal at 11/2 as he returns to the larger obstacles on Saturday.
As silly as it sounds, connections will not be overly upset about Slate House’s poor form this season. He has faced 32 rivals in his three starts so far and beaten only four of them but those runs all came over hurdles and the poor form has helped his chasing handicap mark which has slipped from 148 to 134. He retains the ability and hunger to capitalise on that mark over fences so don’t be surprised if he looks like a different horse at Wincanton.
3:35 Unibet Casino Deposit £10 Get £40 Handicap Hurdle
Class 2, 2m
When Volkovka won on her seasonal reappearance she was rewarded with a nine-pound hike in the ratings from the handicapper. That looked a little steep but she coped with the rise admirably next time out when stepping up in trip from 2m1f to 2m4f at Sandow. While she travelled strongly throughout and saw the trip out, there was no beating Shirocco’s Dream on the day.
Once again, she does appear to have been quite harshly dealt with as the handicapper bumps her another five pounds but Fergal O’Brien is a shrewd operator and he just may have played a blinder entering Volkovka in this two-mile contest. She has the speed required for the distance and the stamina required to battle away under second top weight. Hermes Boy is the right favourite by Volkovka is the value pick in the final ITV race of the day at odds of 6/1.