By William Hill
4th January 2019
Nicky Henderson’s superb recent record in the Tolworth Hurdle looks to have plenty to do with his Rathhill being 6/5 favourite for the 2019 race, but form pick Elixir De Nutz will be tough to topple.
The master of Seven Barrows hasn’t had a runner in Sandown’s Grade 1 novice hurdle for two seasons, but between 2011 and 2016 he saddled four winners, a second and a third in the race.
Having boasted several entries in the race during the week, Henderson relies on Rathhill, a comfortable maiden hurdle winner at Newbury in mid-December, as his sole representative.
However, likely chief rival for favouritism in the Tolworth Hurdle odds, 9/4 selection Elixir De Nutz, has scored at a far higher level this term and once again encounters the kind of small field those who seek to crab his form have cited as vital to his last two successes.
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Tolworth Hurdle betting tips: Elixir De Nutz @ 9/4
Colin Tizzard’s hurdler started off the campaign going down by three lengths to Thomas Darby at Cheltenham in October, before winning races at the track at each of its next two meetings, including the Grade 2 Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle in November.
He returned to Prestbury Park in December to score in a lowlier Class 3 contest, giving a field including second-placed Jarveys Plate 10lb and a beating.
The silver medallist on that occasion has gone on to frank the form in no uncertain terms, returning to the Cotswolds course to strike in a listed hurdle by an authoritative 13 lengths on New Year’s Day.
For all Rathhill may well have the progressive profile to take the step up to Grade 1 level in his stride, backing Nutz, who has form at close to this level, at around double the price makes more sense.
The Tizzard gelding retains a relatively modest 140 official rating, which is nonetheless enough to give him the joint highest mark of anything in the Tolworth Hurdle betting, along with Paul Nicholls’ Southfield Stone.
That one has won all three of his outings over timber by five lengths or further, but he’s never competed at higher than Class 4 level and it’s hard to quantify exactly how the handicapper came by his rating – for those who fancy backing one on potential he looks like better value than the jolly.