32Red Tolworth Hurdle
|Grade 1, Sandown 14:25
2m, Class 1
|Saturday 3rd January 2015|
1 L'Ami Serge 4/9F
2 Jolly's Cracked It 7/2
3 Thelordbewithyou 100/1
4 ran Distances: 14l, 99l
TIME 4m 16.00s (slow by 31.00s)
L'Ami Serge wins the 32Red Tolworth Hurdle, sprinting clear after clearing the second last flight. That looked good.
Nicky Henderson "You'd have to like what you saw. I think we will go straight to the Supreme. He looks to be toward the top of the table."
The Grade One novice event attracted just four runners, and after Shelford had made the running the big two of the Nicky Henderson-trained winner and market rival Jolly's Cracked it arrived powerfully on the scene at the second-last.
Sent off as the 4-9 market leader, the five-year-old L'Ami Serge quickened smartly from there, putting the race to bed in a matter of strides under Barry Geraghty in what was very testing ground.
Jolly's Cracked It was left to settle for second, some 14 lengths back, while rank outsider Thelordbewithyou took third after a tired fall for Shelford at the last.
Geraghty said: "You'd have to be impressed. His two previous wins were good, but he's stepped up here. Shelford was well beaten when he fell and he had good form from Ascot (fourth in The Ladbroke).
"It was a bit hard work on the ground through the race, but I think that's just a reflection of his age, he's only just turning five and to win the way he did was very good. He coped with that ground, but he's a lovely mover and you'd imagine decent ground should suit him."
Henderson, mindful that this was a third quick run for the Simon Munir and Isaac Souede-owned French import, is keen to take L'Ami Serge straight to the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham without another run.
The Seven Barrows trainer said: "You have to like what you saw. He's literally run away from a couple of Grade One horses and we know Harry Fry's horse (Jolly's Cracked It) pretty well, having seen the back of him with Clondaw Banker, who is certainly no mug.
"He somehow didn't manage to win in France, where that got him educated, and the way to go is straight for the Supreme.
"It's only been a fortnight since Ascot. He's won his Grade Two and now he's won his Grade One. Let's see what Mr (Willie) Mullins brings over for the Supreme because I suspect that's what we've got to beat."
RaceBets cut the winner to 6-1 from 12-1 for the traditional Cheltenham Festival opener.
32Red Tolworth Hurdle (Grade 1 Novices' Hurdle)
£40,000 added, 4yo plus, 2m, Class 1
Going: Soft, Heavy in places
|Dist||Horse||Jockey / Weight||Trainer||Age|
|1st||L'Ami Serge (IRE) 4/9f||B J Geraghty
|N J Henderson||5|
|2nd||14||Jolly's Cracked It (FR) 7/2||N D Fehily
|3rd||99||Thelordbewithyou (IRE) 100/1||Gemma Gracey-Davison
|Miss Z C Davison||11|
|F||Shelford (IRE) 6/1||Harry Skelton