Tuesday 20 March 2018

New year, same story as Tizzard run continues

Finian’s Oscar ridden by Tom O’ Brien clears the last before going on to win The Tolworth Hurdle. Photo: Julian Herbert/PA
Finian’s Oscar ridden by Tom O’ Brien clears the last before going on to win The Tolworth Hurdle. Photo: Julian Herbert/PA

Marcus Armytage

The new year has begun like the old one finished for Colin Tizzard. The only difference was that in the Grade One he won yesterday, he was welcoming back a novice hurdler to the winners' enclosure and not a chaser, but success has been busy breeding success down at Venn Farm.

Finian's Oscar's future will one day be over fences, but the Alan Potts-owned novice hurdler, bought for £250,000 in the autumn, proved five lengths too good for his nearest rival, Capitaine, in the 32Red Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown and relished the testing ground that has been something of a rarity so far this winter.

Though Tizzard admitted he had not expected the five-year-old to win with quite such authority, punters clearly thought he would, sending him off the well-backed 11/10 favourite.

"He's a beautiful young horse," said the trainer. "We didn't know he'd win like that. He'd only won a point-to-point, but it was the way he won his novice hurdle at Hereford. We thought, why waste another run in a small race?

"He soon went five lengths clear and when he stuttered into the last, you slightly wondered if he'd get caught, but he kept on. Tom Malone (the bloodstock agent) put him up to us and there were some good people after him. It's made the game a lot easier for us buying lovely young horses ready to go on. We used have to buy stores and wait three years for them."

He added: "Cheltenham's where we want to be. Do we need to run again? Probably. I don't know if he's a two or two-and-a-half miler, but someone will probably tell me."

His Hereford win was over two and three-quarters, but yesterday's was over two and, if Tizzard is looking for advice from the bookmakers then, looking ahead to the Festival, they have Finian's Oscar at 6/1 for the Neptune, but double that for the shorter Supreme.

At the last, it looked like Tizzard's Theatrical Star might win the day's most valuable prize, the 32Red Veterans' Handicap Chase Final, but, belying his 13 years, Pete The Feat had nipped through to lead at the Pond fence and Charlie Longsdon's 20/1 shot showed the determination of a horse half his age to hang on by two lengths, with his stable companion Loose Chips in third.

But for the veteran series of races, Pete The Feat would have been long retired. Instead, with £46,000 to the winner, he was winning the biggest prize of his career.

"He's had endless problems," said Longsdon. "But he's ridden out by a 70-year-old, Wilf Rayer, and it's the two old boys together. The horse is a yob and Wilf lets him push him around and get away with murder and its probably why the horse enjoys himself so much."

Longsdon added: "We haven't had a winner since mid-December, otherwise I expect he would have been half the price. They've been running well and to form, but without winning. Loose Chips has also run a brilliant race in third. He had to have three weeks off after his last start and has only been back in work 10 days."

At 24, Amy Murphy, Britain's youngest trainer, is some way off the veteran stage, but her career, less than three months old, is going great guns.

Based in Newmarket, Mercian Prince became her seventh winner so far when taking the 32Red Handicap Chase by two lengths from All Together.

The chaser, owned by her father, Paul, and bred by him in France, could now go to Cheltenham Trials Day at the end of the month for the novices' handicap chase.Telegraph

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