Tommy’s Oscar aimed at Doncaster hurdle on Saturday by Ann and Ian Hamilton | Racing News

A lack of suitable opportunities over fences will see Tommy’s Oscar revert to hurdles at Doncaster on Saturday, where he will attempt to win the bet365 Handicap Hurdle for a second time.

Ann and Ian Hamilton’s popular eight-year-old claimed the two-mile contest amid a winning run that took him to the Champion Hurdle at the climax of the 2021/2022 season.

However, since that Cheltenham Festival appearance he has raced just the once over the smaller obstacles while building up a fine reputation as a two-mile chaser and rising to a mark of 157.

He made a winning return over two miles at Kelso in October before once again forced to try his hand over further in Aintree’s Old Roan Chase.

Now with options few and far between in the north for the Northumberland-based team, they have been left with no choice but to switch to timber on Town Moor.

“We can’t find a race for him and there’s not much point taking Jonbon on is there,” said Ian Hamilton, who owns Tommy’s Oscar.

“There’s not a two-mile race anywhere in the north [over fences] anyway.

Tommy's Oscar ridden by Danny McMenamin wins the MND Association Race For Research Lightning Novices' Chase during the Sky Bet Chase Racing day at Doncaster
Tommy’s Oscar also triumphed at Doncaster in January when he defeated Boothill over fences

“We’ve had bits of trouble with him, nothing serious, just corns in his feet. He seems spot on now and that [the race at Doncaster] is all we could find.

“He’s going to have a lot of weight, but he should still be capable enough over hurdles. We intend running him because we’ve got to run somewhere and there might be a two-mile race later on maybe at Aintree or somewhere.

“We might put a claimer on, Nicky Richards’ rider Conor Rabbitt, who does well and he can take 5lb off. Tommy’s is an easy enough ride and he’s a horseman so we might just stick him on him. We love Danny (McMenamin) but he can’t ride them all and 5lb is a lot of weight to take off.

“We’re loathed to run him back over hurdles, but what can you do? You can’t do anything else.”

Sandown hosting the rearranged Fighting Fifth brought into the spotlight the lack of nearby races for the north’s best operators, with the fixture list proving a real headache for the husband and wife team behind Tommy’s Oscar.

Their dilemma has been further complicated by an uncertainty over the gelding’s stamina over two-and-a-half miles and also the arduous and time-consuming nature of trips to southern-based racecourses if wanting to take part in some of the more valuable two-mile affairs over fences.

“He’s won over two and a half before but that was at Haydock and on faster ground and an easy track,” added Hamilton.

“But it just showed in the big race at Aintree, he was cruising at two miles but just didn’t get home over the two and a half.

“It was very soft ground and he might have done if it was faster ground, but it’s not an easy one really.

“It’s around 120 miles to Doncaster, whereas it’s 300 miles and more to Sandown and Cheltenham and places.”

Watch all the action from Doncaster on Saturday live on Sky Sports Racing, with the bet365 Handicap Hurdle due off at 2.05pm.

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