Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle, Sandown
Paul Nicholls won the Unibet Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle for the fifth time on Saturday when Harry Cobden rode Tahmuras to victory.
Tahmuras, owned by a syndicate formed by former jockeys Noel Fehily and Dave Crosse, traveled well but wandered in the final stages, but it was strong enough to defeat L’Astroboy with Nemean Lion coming in third.
The winner, who returned at 5-2, is now 10-1 (from 33) with Paddy Power and Betfair for the Cheltenham Festival’s Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. Constitution Hill, who won the Tolworth a year ago, was the last horse to win that race. Summerville Boy also did the double in 2018.
Tahmuras is also quoted as 10-1 (from 20) by Betfair and Paddy Power for the festival’s Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.
Cobden said, after winning his first Tolworth, “He’s a good horse. As soon as he’s got the front, he’s idled a fair bit, but the ground’s pretty testing. If something was to get him beat it was that, but he’s obviously very good.”
“The mistake [two out] probably helped me because I didn’t get there ten minutes too soon – it was only five! He’s a lovely horse who will keep progressing. We’ll definitely see him at his best when he steps up in trip; the only reason he’s winning now over two miles is because he’s so good.”
Tahmuras was a point-to-point winner in Ireland when he was younger before joining Nicholls’ Ditcheat operation. He is the son of Falco, a top-class miler in France. After that, he won a bumper at Wincanton and got off to a great start in his hurdling career with impressive victories at Chepstow and Haydock in November.
Fehily said, “He’s not too dissimilar to Summerville Boy, whom I rode in this race. He’s probably a better jumper, but he stays well and has a lot of ability; he’s getting better with every run.”
Crosse added, “I’d say we’d 100 per cent be going for it [the Supreme]. We had a taste of Cheltenham glory last year with Love Envoi and we want more of it but we’ll speak to Paul.
“When we bought this horse as a four-year-old, all he did was grow and mature. We thought he’d step up in grade over two and a half miles, but he’s shown a lot more speed and keeps answering. He couldn’t have been more impressive today and has the world at his feet.”
Nicholls previously won the Tolworth with Thisthatandtother, Noland, Silverburn, and Breedsbreeze. Bravemansgame (King George VI Chase) and Hermes Allen (Challow) have helped him win three British Grade 1s in a row.