The National Hunt season is really getting into the swing of things and with the King George VI Chase and other close Boxing Day races coming to an end, attention is turned towards the Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle at Sandown Park. Another early race on the calendar, there are plenty of reasons to suggest this year can be a classic, with 2021 a great example of how unpredictable horse racing can be, with racing results from Paddy Power drawing some unlikely conclusions. With that in mind, we thought we’d look at some of the previous winners of the Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle.

2021 – Metier

It was strange seeing races taking place behind closed doors for the majority of 2020 and the early stages of last year. The eerily silent stands made for difficult viewing at times but Harry Fry didn’t seem to care one bit when Metier took in the adulation of the very few in attendance at Sandown. Most of the discussion will be around the conditions, where a greasy racecourse benefited the six-year-old, who saw off the favourite Shakem Up’Arry and third place Tile Tapper to be crowned champion. 

Fry was full of praise for his horse saying: “He relishes those conditions. He is a very exciting hurdler. With the action on him, I wouldn’t be in too much of a hurry to run him on drying ground, but good horses have to run on all grounds.

“This is a lovely race to win and I’m absolutely delighted to get a first Grade One winner from the new yard, having only moved in back in June.”

2020 – Fiddlerontheroof 

With a capacity crowd in attendance, Fiddlerontheroof took home the 2020 edition of the Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle, once again overcoming difficult conditions to stride out the winner in a competition littered with elite Grade One racers. 

The Colin Tizzard-trained eight-year-old was a cut above the rest in this one, demonstrating excellent jumping and managing to pace himself much better over the one-mile, seven-furlong track than he did in previous outings. With a 50% career win rate it was a big success for Tizzard, who will have jockey Robbie Power to thank for back-to-back wins with an equally impressive performance. 

2019 – Elixir Du Nutz

The first of Tizzard’s titles, this time it was Elixir Du Nutz who was first to cross the finish line in 2019, bypassing the likes of Grand Sancy, a 4/1 favourite in the ante-post betting and the Paul Nicholls-trained Southfield Stone in a confident run. Despite a strong finish from the former, dangerously close to catching the eventual champion Elixir Du Nutz ran out the winner, and Tizzard was full of praise for the eight-year-old in doing so.

“He has toughed that out again today. Going from the front like that, you have got to be tough. He jumps his hurdles and is away from them so fast.” He said:” If we held him up I don’t know whether he could do that.

“That is the beauty of him – the way he crosses a hurdle he takes a length out of them every time. If he folded today in second no one would blame him, but he is a tough old boy and has had a hard race today.”