Friday 24 January 2020

Fiddler worth a punt at Sandown


Fiddlerontheroof is fancied for Colin Tizzard and Robbie Power. Photo: Edward Whitaker
Fiddlerontheroof is fancied for Colin Tizzard and Robbie Power. Photo: Edward Whitaker

A look back through the previous winners of Sandown's Tolworth Hurdle will tell you what type of horse needed to win this Grade One contest, with a host of Cheltenham Festival scorers in the roll of honour.

Today's renewal looks a fiercely competitive seven-runner heat and Colin Tizzard can land his third in four years with FIDDLERONTHEROOF (2.25, Sandown).

It remains to be seen if Fiddlerontheroof can emulate the likes f Noland, Yorkhill or Summerville Boy, but Herald columnist Robbie Power has been enjoying another fantastic season and he looks like holding all the aces here this afternoon.

This course and distance winner cost a pretty penny after beating a well-regarded Willie Mullins Bumper horse in March and had some strong form in defeat - including a loss in a Grade Two on his hurdling debut to Thyme Hill - before he bolted up over course and distance last time.

He was entitled to do that, and expected to, but it was the way he travelled through the race and jumped economically from the front which will have tempted connections to have a stab at this race today.

Having landed it with Elixir De Nutz last season and with Finian's Rainbow in 2017, Tizzard knows the kind of horse needed to win a Tolworth so Fiddlerontheroof holds every chance.

In the Unibet Veterans' Handicap Chase In Memory Of Houblon Des Obeaux, SMOOTH STEPPER (3.00, Sandown) could spring a small surprise under Kielan Woods.

This 11-year-old hasn't troubled the judge since April 2018, when he won twice in three starts, the second of those at Kelso off a handicap mark of 138.

He has largely struggled since due to being firmly in the grip of the handicapper but is now back on a more workable mark of 135 and he looks primed and ready to return to the winners' enclosure.

He was staying on really well after looking beaten the last day and with that blowing off the cobwebs, he is an excellent each-way shout at 12/1 here.

Another one who looks well handicapped is Paul Nicholls' AS DE MEE (3.15, Wincanton) in the Boylesports Handicap Chase.

Bryan Carver, a 7lbs claimer, is on fire at the moment, firing in the winners, and his booking looks significant as Nicholls bids to get this 10-year-old back to winning ways.

We need to go back to 2017 for his last success but as a result he has been dropped to a mark of 143, which is 2lbs lower than that last win.

He was sixth in the Becher last time but ran well for a long way and looked like a non-stayer, so the drop back to two and a half miles will suit and he is worth siding with.

ROOTLESS TREE (2.40, Wincanton) steps up in trip in the Boylesports This Is Betting Handicap Hurdle and is fancied to improve again for it.

He was an impressive winner at Leicester over two miles but there is more to come over further and he can do the business.

Ian's tips


2.25 fiddlerontheroof

3.00 smooth stepper


2.40 rootless tree

3.15 as de mee

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