Son Of Camas looks worth siding with to take the step up into Grade 1 company in his stride and provide trainer Nicky Henderson with a sixth winner of the 2m Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle at Sandown on Saturday (14:25).
This five-year-old failed to live up to expectations in his sole start last season when sent off 2/1 favourite and beaten out of sight when last of 19 to Festival D’ex in a Punchestown Festival bumper.
However, that run was too bad to be true. Son Of Camas duly showed it to be all wrong when making a winning return to action in a Newbury bumper when staying on strongly to score by two lengths.
It marked him out as one to keep onside when sent hurdling. That view was confirmed when Son Of Camas landed a warm 16-runner contest on reappearance around the same venue at the end of November.
After showing plenty of pace to chase the leaders, Nico de Boinville produced him to take up the running approaching the last.
Son Of Camas only had to be ridden out to readily account for the previously unbeaten and very highly-regarded King Roland, who has since come out and bolted up by 19 lengths at Exeter, by a length.
Supreme prospect in the making
There were also some useful sorts in-behind, including the fourth home Ask For Glory.
That one was last in action in the Grade 1 Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival when sent 13/2 and finishing ninth of 14 to Envoi Allen in what is proving a very strong renewal.
The Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle is traditionally a strong affair which throws-up plenty more winners. Henderson saddled Buveur D’Air to land the 2015 running of it.
At the time, the subsequent dual Champion Hurdle winner carried the colours of Sullivan Bloodstock – and they also own Son Of Camas.
Buveur D’Air, who was later sold to JP McManus, went on to finish a cracking third that season to stable companion Altior in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
That looks to be Son Of Camas’ obvious long-term target for this season.
If he is to make up into a leading contender for that traditional Grade 1 curtain-raiser at the four-day extravaganza in March, then he needs to be winning this.
Son Of Camas can be backed at 11/4 with BetVictor to do just that.
He has been saved for the Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle despite festive entries in the Challow at Newbury and a Listed Ballymore trial on New Year’s Day.
Fiddlerontheroof feared most
Trainer Colin Tizzard has won two of the last three renewals of the Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle, so that makes his sole representative Fiddlerontheroof of obvious interest.
This five-year-old won a Navan bumper when trained in Ireland by JJ Walsh, finding plenty for pressure to beat The Big Getaway by just over a length.
The runner-up is a highly regarded sort that hails from the powerful yard of Willie Mullins and has since gone on to score at Punchestown in runaway style.
Fiddlerontheroof then joined Tizzard’s yard and ran very well on debut over the obstacles for his new handler when a two-length runner-up to Thyme Hill in the Grade 2 Persian War Novices’ Hurdle at Chepstow.
As the winner has gone on to follow-up in another Grade 2 at Cheltenham before landing the Grade 1 Challow at Newbury to confirm himself one of best novice hurdlers seen out so far, the form has a very strong look.
Fiddlerontheroof then surprisingly got turned over went sent off odds-on and runner-up at Wincanton, but seemed ill at ease on that sharp track.
He then duly showed the benefit of return to a more galloping venue when opening his account over the obstacles last time out over this course and distance.
Fiddleronthehoof made all in the hands of Robbie Power and drew readily clear from two out to easily beat Arrivederci by seven lengths.
That will have done his confidence the world of good and, on his run behind Thyme Hill, the son of Stowaway looks well worth a crack at this level.
He also has proven form in the mud, so Fiddleronthehoof rates the main danger to Son Of Camas and is a 9/4 shot with William Hill for Tolworth glory here.
Hang In There another with leading Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle claims
Hang In There is officially the highest rated in the seven-runner line-up as a result of an impressive success last time out, so at 7/2 with Paddy Power is another to consider in what looks like a fierce renewal.
This Emma Lavelle trained five-year-old took some notable scalps when landing the 2m Grade 2 Sharp Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in November to make it two from two over the obstacles.
The market was dominated by Ecco, who had finished sixth in this year’s Triumph Hurdle and went into the race and was unbeaten in two starts this season, and the Jamie Snowdon trained Pacify – seeking a sixth straight success over the obstacles.
However, they were both put firmly in their place by the son of multiple Ascot Gold Cup winner Yeats, who made virtually all in the hands of Adam Wedge to score by three lengths.
Hang In There showed a smart turn of foot to quicken five lengths clear rounding the home turn, then stayed on powerfully up the stiff uphill finish to readily fend off the rallying Pacify.
Ecco finished a further 14 lengths adrift in third, so the form looks strong. It was a performance which suggested Hang In There had a big future.
Judged on the way in which he finished off that race, this track will play to his strengths. Another plus is that Hang In There has proven form on soft ground.
He is, however, unlikely to get an uncontested lead in this with Fiddlerontheroof in the line-up.
If those two get locked in a duel, then it could set it up for a closer and Son Of Camas fits that bill.