Finian's Oscar takes on new starring role for Colin Tizzard

Sat 7 Jan 2017

Colin Tizzard celebrated his 61st birthday in style after Finian's Oscar provided him with another big-race Saturday winner in the 32Red Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown.

While Thistlecrack may be the current jewel in the crown at the Milborne Port handler's yard, the five-year-old looked every inch a star in the making after taking the Grade One.

Having claimed many personal milestones this season, Tizzard ticked another box on his CV as the 11-10 favourite made the step up from his impressive debut at Hereford.

Always kept close to the early pace, which was cut out for much of the race by Chalonnial, the Ann and Alan Potts-owned gelding motored into a race-winning lead in almost effortless fashion on the approach to two out.

Although getting in tight at the last, the market leader responded to jockey Tom O'Brien to keep up to his work and pass the post five lengths clear of Capitaine, with Chalonnial a further three and three-quarter lengths back in third.

The winner is now the general 6-1 favourite for the Neptune at Cheltenham in March.

Tizzard said: "He's a beautiful young horse, but we didn't know he was going to do that.

"He's only won a point-to-point and a novices' hurdle at Hereford, but the way he did it at Hereford, why waste him in a little race when you can have a go at this?

"He justified it (the decision to run) and handled the ground well. He looked in control most of the way and he soon went five lengths clear.

"He stuttered into the last and I thought 'is he going to stop', but as soon as Tom got busy, he went on again.

"I would have been disappointed if he didn't win at Hereford, but coming here today was completely different as it was a proper race back over two miles.

"He probably will run again and then go for one of the races at Cheltenham.He could go any trip, I think the easiest option is to go two and a half, but he's got the speed for two and he stays."

As for the winning rider, whose last taste of top-level success came aboard Souffleur in the 2007 Challow Hurdle, he felt Finian's Oscar is up there with the best he has sat on.

O'Brien said: "I've not ridden many horses like him.It was like riding a Grade One horse in a handicap, he does everything so easy.I've only won one Grade One, it took me a long time to get on another, so the feeling now is relief."

There were no complaints from connections of the Paul Nicholls-trained runner-up, with assistant trainer Harry Derham believing they were just beaten by a better horse.

He said: "He ran well, but Sam (Twiston-Davies) said he doesn't want the ground that deep. We will get him back and make a plan.I think he has been beaten by a very good horse. In my opinion we don't have any excuses."

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