‘Proper horse’ Capitaine up with Nicholls’ Tolworth winners

Paul Nicholls says ‘proper horse’ Capitaine can match his four previous winners and take the 32Red Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle at Sandown.

Nicholls, who last claimed the Tolworth with Breedsbreeze in 2008, is bidding for a fifth victory in Saturday’s renewal with his runner Capitaine already back to winning ways.

Although he was turned over at short odds on his penultimate start at Haydock, the five-year-old grey made amends with a game frontrunning success in a Grade Two at Ascot last month.

“Hopefully he is up there with my past winners as he is a proper horse,” said Nicholls.

“As I said before, we got the tactics totally wrong at Haydock when he got beat there but we’ve always thought a lot of him.

“We let him bowl along in front last time and he was very good.

“He wouldn’t want too much rain. Hopefully he will run well again. He is another horse for the future.”

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He faces five rivals in the race, including Finian’s Oscar, who made a winning start for Colin Tizzard at Hereford last month.

He brushed aside Harry Fry’s fancied Acting Lass on that occasion and looks “a very exciting prospect”, according to jockey Tom O’Brien.

“He’s ready for a step up in grade,” he added.

“It was soft ground when he won and he made it feel lovely. When they do that, they can handle dig in the ground, no problem.”

Fry is keen on the prospects of his gelding Chalonnial this time, but the trainer he is well aware the five-year-old needs to kick on from last month’s debut win over hurdles at Bangor.

Fry said: “He’s a nice sort and a horse we like a lot.

“He’s only had the one run for us at Bangor. He was good that day and Noel was very impressed with him. It’s a big step up into a Grade One, though.”

A statement on Harry Fry Racing continued: “Chalonnial displayed signs of inexperience, which was hardly surprising on his first start over hurdles.

“But he jumped fluently in the main, led from half-way, going well, was clear at the last and kept on strongly to the line as he beat Santo de Lune by two and three quarter lengths.

“A big rangy type, he is a horse we’ve always liked and showed plenty in two bumper runs last season, winning well at Wincanton before finishing third in a Listed event at Limerick on going that was virtually waterlogged.

“We will see how Chalonnial comes out of this race before making any plans but he is clearly smart and should make a lovely chaser one day.”

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