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Oscar Whisky - Newbury 16.12.09

Oscar Whisky: likely Tolworth favourite if Sandown beats the weather

  PICTURE: Getty Images  

Sandown faces prospect of losing Tolworth again

SANDOWN faces the prospect of losing the Grade 1 Blue Square Tolworth Hurdle meeting for a second year running on Saturday.

The high-quality six-race card hangs in the balance with a 7.30am inspection scheduled and on Betfair, at 7.15pm on Friday, the fixture was 1.35 to be abandoned and 2.86 to go ahead.

With no more than a dusting of snow, Sandown was raceable on Friday, but with a biting frost of -3c forecast overnight clerk of the course Andrew Cooper readily conceded that that if the Met Office forecast is correct "we are up against it".

Andrew Cooper - clerk of the course at Sandown and Epsom

Andrew Cooper: concerns

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker  

He added: "We'd face a big challenge because daytime temperatures are unlikely to rise above 2c. Weather problems in the past have led to the Tolworth being transferred elsewhere, although that option was not taken up last January.

"We are discussing various options with the BHA, and Wincanton may be a possibility next weekend, but let's take one step at a time."

The likely favourite for the Blue Square Tolworth Hurdle is the thusfar unbeaten Oscar Whisky, who is owned by Dai Walters, the mastermind and financier behind Ffos Las racecourse.

Ruminating on Oscar Whisky's chance on Saturday, trainer Nicky Henderson said on Friday: "He has done everything we have asked of him and, in truth, everything we'd expected of him.

"He has a lot of natural pace and certainly at the moment he doesn't need to go furtherthan two miles. Of course, this represents another step up in class."

alan king on gallops 170

Alan King: no experience worries

His four rivals include Ghizao, a smart bumper horse who was odds-on when beaten by the Henderson-trained General Miller at Cheltenham on his hurdling debut, and the Alan King-trained Salden Licht.

King said: "It is not my style throwing a novice in the deep end so early, but his case is somewhat different in that he is streetwise from the Flat, having raced 12 times. I was very happy with the way he won at Newbury."

The £40,000 Tolworth would form the centrepiece of Sandown's fixture if the track beats the weather, with Channel 4 also due to screen three other live races from there. 

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