sport

Irving to duck Tolworth

Irving is to miss the rearranged Tolworth Hurdle at Kempton on Saturday and instead wait for the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury on February 8.

Connections of the Paul Nicholls-trained six-year-old, winner of all his three starts over hurdles, feel the big handicap is a better fit ahead of the Cheltenham Festival.

"We've decided not to run Irving on Saturday in the williamhill.com Levy Board Tolworth. He's going for the Betfair at Newbury instead," said Dan Downie, racing manager for owners Axom.

"We think he'll be competitive off that mark (143) and it is probably the right race for him. It also gives him a bit more time after his race at Ascot and then it will give him plenty of time before Cheltenham as well.

"The timing works better, really. My Tent Or Yours did it last year - running in the Betfair and then the Supreme (Novices' Hurdle at the Festival).

"We just thought it might be more sensible rather than run him at Kempton."

Irving was heading the market for the Grade One Tolworth on the exchanges and is also among the favourites for next month's handicap with Sky Bet rating the novice a 10/1 chance.