Willie Mullins is confident a return to two miles will not inconvenience Yorkhill in the 32Red Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle at Sandown today.
The six-year-old kept a lower profile than some of his stable companions as a bumper horse, but impressed on his second start under Rules at the Punchestown Festival and made a flying start to his hurdling career at the same track in early December.
Ruby Walsh’s mount comes back in distance for his first Grade One assignment, but Mullins is not concerned, with conditions at the Esher venue sure to be testing.
He said: “I’m looking forward to running Yorkhill and it will be a stiff two miles around Sandown on that ground, so I don’t have any worries about bringing him back in trip.
“It’s going to be a tough race, so it will give us an idea what he’s going to do for the rest of the season.
“He hasn’t run in Grade One bumpers, but he shows plenty at home, so we’re looking forward to him.”
Nicky Henderson has saddled four of the last five Tolworth winners and relies upon O O Seven, who followed up a hurdling debut success at Huntingdon with victory over this course and distance on December 5.
“O O Seven is in great form. We didn’t go to the Challow Hurdle at Newbury as we wanted to avoid taking on Barters Hill,” said Henderson.
“I think the handicapper was harsh in raising him to 145 for beating Premier Bond last time, but I think he (O O Seven) is is a nice horse that is progressive.”
Welsh Shadow has shown smart form for Dan Skelton, winning a Wetherby bumper and a Listed novice hurdle at Haydock, as well as chasing home the exciting Yanworth at Exeter.
Owner Dai Walters said: “We think he’s quite a good horse and he was impressive at Haydock.
“Fingers crossed he runs well as the soft ground won’t bother him.”
Trainer Nick Williams and jockey Lizzie Kelly teamed up to land the Feltham on St Stephen’s Day with Tea For Two and aim to plunder another big prize with Agrapart.
A winner on the Flat in France, the five-year-old was well beaten on his hurdling debut at Worcester, but fared better on his second start at Ffos Las and was a runaway winner at Aintree last time.
Williams said: “It’s a big step up for him and going to a stiff, right-handed track like Sandown will be a different test. This looks a tough race, but he’s entitled to take his chance.”
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