Prospect Wells: 7-4 favourite for the 32Red Novices' Hurdle at SandownPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Supreme Novices' clues on offer at Sandown
THE complexion of the William Hill Supreme Novices' Hurdle market is likely to become clearer at Sandown on Saturday when the track hosts the Grade 1 32Red-sponsored Tolworth Hurdle.
Prospect Wells, 14-1 with race sponsors William Hill for the Cheltenham Festival opener, will face four rivals - including the progressive Colour Squadron and French import Captain Conan - in the 2m contest.
Prospect Wells, who finished fourth in the Ladbroke on his last start, is the general 7-4 favourite and Dan Skelton, assistant to trainer Paul Nicholls, reported him to be in good shape before his first Grade 1 assignment.
"We have schooled him and worked him this week," said Skelton. "He seems in good order. His fourth in the handicap last time out is very strong form and he is high up in the Supreme betting.
"He's the obvious type for this race. The Supreme Novices' Hurdle will come after this."
He will line up against the Philip Hobbs-trained Colour Squadron, who is second favourite and a top-priced 20-1 for the Supreme after his one-length beating of the well-regarded Montbazon at Newbury in December.
Nicky Henderson: will bid for more Grade 1 glory with Captain ConanPICTURE: Edward Whitaker
Perhaps the most intriguing contender in the field is Captain Conan, who is as short as 7-2 on his first start for trainer Nicky Henderson. He notched his first success on his last start at Auteuil in June and is rated a 25-1 shot with PaddyPower for the Supreme.
Along with High Storm, unbeaten hurdler Magnifique Etoile appears in the final field, although trainer Charlie Longsdon warned he will inspect the ground before allowing him to take his chance.
Sandown's clerk of the course Andrew Cooper is expecting decent weather and a big crowd for the six-race card.
Speaking on Friday, he said: "The ground description is a little complicated at present but it is generally soft on the hurdles course, but with a good to soft section down the back straight. On the chase it is better and is good to soft, soft in places.
"We expect a mild night on Friday and a bright afternoon on Saturday with temperatures perhaps in double figures."
Also on the card is the highly competitive 32Red.com Handicap Chase, which features nine runners including Tanks For That, Hold Fast and Rileyev. Four races at the track will be live on Channel 4.