Good morning all,
Plenty of rain at Warwick in the night, and it's going to be heavy going!
One of the quieter Saturdays of the year, but no less interesting for it, with Warwick’s card containing a couple of graded events, the Classic, and a Pertemps qualifier. They are given a good look over on today’s main piece.
1.50 Warwick – 3m Hampton Novices Chase
Only three runners but worth a look. Is Golan Fortune the most likely winner of this? No. Should he be a 7-1 chance to win it, though? (Update – that price long gone, sadly) Also no, and that means I’ll be having a bet.
He was the lowest rated of the three over hurdles but as far as fences go, there’s little between these three at the weights, with Next Destination giving 5lb away to his two opponents.
He ran a very good race against the potentially top-class Shan Blue at Kempton until a late mistake probably cost him third, but a small field and slow ground are going to put a bit less pressure on his jumping here, which can only help. Proven at 3m in bad ground, I can see him going from the front and if he’s allowed to get into a good rhythm, he might be hard to pass.
Fiddlerontheroof is starting to look a bit disappointing, and although the consensus seems to be that a step up to 3m is going to suit, I’m less convinced. It wasn’t as if he was running away from them at the end of his Ascot race last time, and to me he’s just looking a bit exposed now.
In the hope that Golan Fortune drifts back to 6-1 and bigger, I'll still go with him.
2.25 Warwick – Leamington Novices Hurdle 2m5f
Not only does this look open on what has been achieved from the runners so far, with the promise of more to come it looks near-impossible to solve. I’m hoping the paddock throws up a clue or two later….
At this stage I’ll take two against the field. Lord Of Kerak has ground to make up on Adrimel on their Sandown running but is 3lb better off, and this trip is going to suit him, as he showed when an easy winner at Uttoxeter last time out. The well-beaten third there, Oneupmanship, gave the useful Sizable Sam plenty to think about at Wincanton last week, and the form looks strong. If Adrimel is 7-2, I’m struggling to see why Lord Of Kerak is three times the price, as there’s little between them on that Sandown run.
Jay Bee Why was only a 4-1 chance to win a good Newbury bumper on his debut last year but blew out bigtime. However, he showed that form to be all wrong when thrashing the odds-on Patroclus over this C&D on his reappearance, galloping all the way to the line. The speed figure was decent, he should handle heavy ground fine, and another step forward can be expected here.
3.00 Warwick – Classic Handicap Chase 3m5f
There’s no disguising the fact this is a moderate affair this year, and if it wasn’t for Catterick getting called off in the week, we’d have just the ten runners. As it is, Le Breuil, Late Romantic and Red Infantry all take their chance here instead.
The point about Le Breuil is that he needs to win a race of this stature to cement his place in the Grand National itself come April, as his current mark of 140, likely as not, won’t get him in. Opportunities between then and now to do so may be thin on the ground, and I’m sure part of the reason for going to Catterick was to find a weakish race to win without taking too much out of himself. This is clearly tougher, but not that much, and he has to be on anyone’s shortlist.
The case for Captain Chaos is there to see, too. Second in this last year before going on to win the Skybet by half an hour, he’s had three runs over trips too short, and without his customary blinkers, but now they’re back on and he goes up in trip. Problem is, everyone’s seen it, and quotes of 9-2 don’t get the pulse racing.
The Venetia-chaser-off-a-long-absence angle makes Achille interesting, but he’s hardly thrown in, and the improving Storm Control might get an easy on the front end, but ultimately I come back to Le Breuil. He’ll do for me.
3.35 Warwick – 3m Pertemps Hurdle Qualifier
If we’re not in front going into this, we might be in trouble, as this looks impossible to solve.
Part of me wants to give Espion another chance. It’s still early days, after all, this will only be his fourth handicap, but he’s not progressing as he ought to be and looked hard work at Sandown last time. I know full well he’ll look like the paddock pick again and then I’ll end up getting lured in, but it’ll only be a small saver all the same. Given Gustavian (who he thrashed at Uttoxeter last year) won off 122 yesterday, he’s clearly well enough handicapped on 128, but I just don’t know what to expect.
The Captains Inn is a really good-looking horse that hasn’t yet fulfilled his novice potential, but there’s still time. He injured himself in the 2019 Grade 1 Sefton Novices’ after winning back-to-back novice hurdles quite impressively, and he would have badly needed his comeback run at Chepstow in December. Probably a bit all-or-nothing, but if connections have any dreams of winning the final come March, then he needs to be winning this. Worth a small saver.
Potters Corner clearly has a chance on this much lower hurdles mark, but he’ll not want a hard race with the X-Country and Grand National around the corner, you’d imagine, and so my fiver will go on Tom Gallagher’s Mr Harp.
Those of you that watch Lydia’s excellent Road To Cheltenham series on a Thursday night will have heard her give a positive mention to Barbados Buck’s this week as an improving staying novice, and rightly so. Mr Harp finished a good second to him at Southwell last November, staying on all the way to the line to be beaten just over 2l by him (although that could have been more, I’ll grant you). He didn’t give his true running next time out, but on his first handicap at Uttoxeter in December, won very easily on heavy ground, so won’t mind how deep it gets. He looks an improver with a low weight, and I can see him taking another step up today.
Today's selection – Le Breuil (e/w) 3.00 Warwick
Good luck with all your bets today,