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There is a plethora of top-class racing action this weekend
  1. Horse Racing

Weekend Racing Preview: Moore eager to be Authorised for Tolworth glory

It's the first full weekend's racing action of the New Year and there's an intriguing Grade 1 contest from Sandown Park to whet the appetite as the Tolworth Hurdle takes centre stage.

Powerhouse trainers Paul Nicholls and Henry De Bromhead both have unbeaten hurdlers coming to the party but so, too, does Gary Moore and the man who often masters Sandown will be hoping his son of Derby winner Authorized has the answers to the Tolworth puzzle.

There's Grade 1 action from Ireland on Sunday too and all the UK and Irish racing action can be followed via our Sports Live Streaming service. Here's our look ahead to the weekend action.

Tolworth cracker in store

The first British Grade 1 contest of 2023 looks to be a cracker – and that's even after ante-post favourite Luccia was withdrawn in midweek. 

The Tolworth Hurdle (2.25) has drawn a field of eight runners to Sandown and it's safe to assume a trio of those contenders can be classed as heavyweights. 

Britain's champion trainer Paul Nicholls saddles dual hurdles winner Tahmuras (2/1) as he and Harry Cobden look to bookend the Grade 1 picture either side of the calendar change, having won the Challow at Newbury in fine style with Hermes Allen last weekend.

That win came very easily for what looks a classy performer in the making, but this will surely be tougher. 

Irish trainer Henry De Bromhead caught plenty by surprise in sending once-raced Cork maiden winner Arctic Bresil across for this contest and he's a 10/3 chance with Rachael Blackmore making the trip to the Esher course to partner him – she's 0-3 in previous visits to Sandown Park. 

And completing the leading trio is Gary Moore's 2/1 chance Authorised Speed, winner of his two hurdles races at Lingfield and over this track and trip in fine style. 

He was earmarked for this race some way out and, while Moore concedes it is a strong line-up, plenty will be feeling he can once more land a major Sandown prize. 

All of the remainder have hurdles wins behind them and Nemean Lion (Kerry Lee), Colonel Harry (Jamie Snowden), Ukantango (Olly Murphy), L'Astroboy (Evan Williams) and Blow Your Wad (Tom Lacey) will each have their eyes on causing an upset in what looks a strong renewal of the Tolworth.

Love Envoi on familiar ground 

Harry Fry's smart mare Love Envoi is currently 2-2 around Sandown, having won a 2m4f Grade 2 novice event in February and then returned last month to win a 2m handicap off a mark of 139 on her seasonal comeback. 

No shock then to find she's got a leading claim in the Listed Mares' Hurdle over two-and-a-half-miles due off at 12.40 on Saturday. 

The daughter of Westerner clearly handles testing ground and will be suited going back up in distance under Johnny Burke now. 

She has won six of her seven starts over timber, the only blemish when second to Brandy Love in a Fairyhouse Grade 1 in April and this Cheltenham Festival winner will prove popular once more. 

Looking to get in her way is Lucy Wadham's Martello Sky, winner of this very race 12 months ago on heavy ground in her only previous Sandown start. 

She's been second-best in Listed company at Wetherby (2m) and Kempton (3m½f) in her two runs this season and is a worthy adversary here despite conceding 1lb to a rival she's currently rated 4lb inferior to.

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Entertainment assured in Veterans' Final 

This Sandown card is also the home of their Veterans' Chase Series Final (3.00) and it is the sort of race sure to warm the hearts of punters on a cold January afternoon as some well-known and much-loved names of the jumping game lock horns. 

Top-weight is the domain of the David Pipe-trained Ramses De Teillee, priced at 5/1 having made a winning start in Veterans' company at Warwick in November to book his place in this field. He looks to hold strong claims though he has as many as 17 rivals staring him down now.  

They include the likes of 8/1 Coo Star Sivola for Venetia Williams, Nigel Twiston-Davies' Ballyandy at 12/1, Joe Tizzard's Elegant Escape at 20/1 and last year's winner Prime Venture at 11/2 for Evan Williams. 

Few winners would be more popular than if the mare Snow Leopardess can beat the boys for Charlie Longsdon and Aidan Coleman, and the former Becher Chase winner is 6/1 having seemingly failed to give her best in that same contest at Aintree last month.

Tommy's Oscar heads to Newcastle 

Tommy's Oscar has mixed memories of Newcastle. He won there as a novice over hurdles in December 2020, having previously finished second in a bumper at Gosforth Park, while this season he returned to face the might of Constitution Hill in the Grade 1 Fighting Fifth Hurdle and laboured home last of five. 

He's back in the north-east on Saturday, this time in what will be his third start over fences in the Novices' Limited Handicap Chase (12.48) where he faces Cormier and Since Day One representing Brian Ellison and Donald McCain respectively. 

Ann Hamilton's stable star must concede a stone and more to the pair but his winning bow over fences at Carlisle in October was very positive and he lost little caste in defeat behind Banbridge in an Arkle Trial at Cheltenham in November when finishing second before that arduous attempt behind the best hurdler in the business at this track soon after. 

His connections will be hoping his class is enough to allow him to give weight and a beating to this pair of rivals. 

Powerhouse duo head for Naas feature 

Ireland also gets a first taste of Grade 1 action for 2023 this weekend, with the Lawlor's Of Naas Novice Hurdle (2.20) the feature race at the Co Kildare venue on Sunday afternoon. 

The contest has thrown up subsequent Cheltenham Festival winners in Envoi Allen and Bob Olinger in two of the last three seasons and has been dominated by Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott. 

They account for 10 of the last 13 winners. A field of nine were declared for this year's renewal, with Mullins going with Grangeclare West and Champ Kiely, while Elliott looks to Irish Point and Imagine. 

Grangeclare West is unbeaten in three runs (point-to-point, bumper, maiden hurdle) and won as he pleased at Navan (2m4f, soft) in November under Paul Townend. 

Irish Point made a winning hurdles bow at Cork (2m, soft) around the same time and has since gone down a head in the Grade 1 Royal Bond at Fairyhouse – a race in which Champ Kiely was fourth. 

They are major players for Ireland's powerhouse yards but Gavin Cromwell is no stranger to giving those big names a bloody nose and his Inothewayurthinkin could be a credible threat after two wins from two over timber so far. 

He races in the JP McManus hoops, as does Joseph O'Brien's Dawn Rising – a Grade 3 winner at Navan (2m4f, soft) in November and progressing nicely over hurdles.

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