The first Saturday of 2021 brings us five cards to enjoy from the UK and Ireland, with Sandown hosting the initial Grade 1 of the new year.
The Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle (14:25) is the feature race on the seven-strong card at Sandown, which runs from 12:05 to 15:35.
The likes of Nicky Henderson and Paul Nicholls have tended to dominate the Tolworth, winning the race nine times between them, but won’t be adding to that tally this year after swearing the Esher engagement.
Harry Fry’s Metier (5/4) looks set to go off as the favourite after two winning runs at Newton Abbot and Ascot but could face competition from Galice Macalo (5/2) and Do Your Job (6/1), both of who are aiming to deliver a maiden Grade 1 success for their respective trainers Jane Williams and Michael Scudamore.
Meanwhile, Betfred are offering an extra place in the 15:00 at Sandown, which is the second card due off on Saturday as Lingfield gets the honour of raising the curtain.
Lingfield’s eight-race all-weather card gets underway at 11:30, wrapping up at 15:30, with Betfred offering an extra place in the 13:45, where Passing Nod (11/2) has the kind of C&D form to make him a strong contender.
In Scotland, Ayr have seven races to look forward to from 12:20 to 15:45 wit the 14:05 Handicap Chase perhaps holding the most intrigue on the card. Evander (2/1) has shown plenty of potential in the past but could come under pressure from the consistent Flowery (9/2).
Ireland’s sole offering on Saturday comes from Cork, who host a seven-race card from 12:30 to 15:55. Willie Mullins looks likely to have his fingerprints all over Cork’s meeting as he saddles the two highest-rated runners in the feature, the GAIN Handicap Hurdle (14:13), in Bon Retour (11/4f) and Koshari (13/2).
The final act of the day comes from Wolverhampton’s all-weather course, racing commencing at 16:10 and concluding at 19:10 with seven races to enjoy.