Good morning all,
Warwick will be my port of call today, and I'm pleased it has passed the early inspection. Nothing worse than hanging around waiting for another 10am one, it means I can now plan the morning properly!
Fair to say the cold weather gear will be out, though. My thoughts on today's card are on the main piece.
1.50 Warwick – Hampton Novices Chase (Grade 2)
Another small-field novice chase for Threeunderthrufive to mop up en route to something better? Well, his chance is there to see, but this will be the softest ground he’s encountered this year and he does have to give 5lb away, so it isn’t a penalty kick by any means. Neither do I think his form this year is worth the mark he has – the only horse he’s beaten in his last three that’s won since was Ask A Honey Bee, who made very hard work of landing short odds at Chepstow last week.
So what can beat him? Any News ran well here in September but makes too many errors. Mossy Fen won the Leamington on the card two years ago but hasn’t been seen for over a year. Doyen Breed looks a proper chasing type but maybe just falls short form-wise, so it might be Mint Condition that can serve it up to the favourite.
He was a neck second to Adrimel in the Leamington last year, and although not really built for fences, it hasn’t stopped him progressing. His neck second to Kiltealy Briggs looks all the better after that one finished within hailing distance of Bravemansgame at Kempton, and then he simply wore down Ashtown Lad at Haydock, looking like a step back up to 3m might well suit.
2.25 Warwick – Leamington Hurdle
Surrey Quest sprang a bit of a surprise when scoring at Doncaster last time, still looking a bit green in the process. It appears to have clicked with him now, and with no ground concerns (it was bordering on heavy when he won at Doncaster) he’s probably the one to beat again in what looks a slightly sub-standard renewal of the race.
Viva Lavilla’s second to Lossiemouth at Sandown is a hard piece of form to quantify. It looks fine on the bare figures, but he was beaten a long way and was merely the best of the rest, with nothing able to hold a candle to the winner.
Stag Horn was classy on the Flat and although he wasn’t that impressive when scoring at Hereford last time, pretty much everything was against him in terms of track, trip and ground and I’d expect him to improve on that here. If he’s allowed an easy lead here, that would make him a big danger, as he’ll be able to use his Flat speed against them late.
Party Business was in the process of running a good race in the Challow when coming down two out but again, he went off a 33s chance there and little was expected. Did he improve or was it a bit of a fluke? The form of his Ascot win took a knock when City Chief was beaten at Doncaster earlier in the week too, and he looks short enough to me.
You can make a case for Gentleman At Arms on his Huntingdon win where he improved a lot on his debut to beat Lounge Lizard easily, jumping much better, and he has flat speed too. It’s a shame we don’t have the dead eight but I’ll bet a couple of the firms will go three places anyway and if that’s the case, at the prices I’d have a small each-way bet on him.
3.00 Warwick – Classic Chase
I normally love this race and it’s been fairly kind to me over the years, but I’m struggling with it this year, if I’m honest!
Firstly, is Corach Rambler a good thing or a place lay? He’s looked a thorough stayer and has impressed in his three starts over fences, but there lies the problem – just three starts. Does he have the experience to win this? Even if he does, he’s likely to be held up and try and pick his way thorough, never an easy thing. At the back of my head I think he’s an ideal NH Chase type come March, and if I think he can win that, he could win this. Do I want to take 5-1 to find out? No , I don’t.
Gericault Roque is the other blindingly obvious one, having come clear with the equally well-treated Saint Palois at Newbury to finish well clear of the third. The issue I have with him is the form of the David Pipe yard, who are once again struggling for winners. All things equal, he’s the one to beat, but again 4-1 hardly sets the pulse racing.
Hard to see Achille winning, but equally hard to see him out of the frame. 4lb higher than when beaten ½l in this last year, he’s run well in two quality handicaps this winter without threatening to win. More of the same looks likely.
Minella Encore improved a bundle for the headgear at Ludlow but will find this a different kettle of fish. A 9lb rise looks enough, given the second was stuffed out of sight at Ludlow earlier in the week.
Jerrysback has the talent but is unreliable. Chiciro Vallis wants better ground, Game Line will stay but looks outclassed, and The Hollow Ginge has a bit to prove after a wind op. Notachance won this last year and is now back on the same mark, but hasn’t looked the same horse this time around, and now headgear is reached for. He has a chance if it works.
With little confidence I’m with Eclair Surf. He needs to sort his jumping out, having fallen three out at Bangor (in with every chance in a race working out well) and then holding every chance when clouting one at Chepstow this winter. When he gets it right, he looks good, as he did when winning with plenty in hand at Sandown (heavy) last February, and he’s only 2lb higher than that here. All sorts of risks then, but he’s the one I’m going with at the prices.
Today's selection – Eclair Surf (e/w) 3.00 Warwick
Good luck with all your bets today,