With schools out for half-term, Warwick stages its annual Budbrooke Chase Family Day on Friday, writes David Hucker.
With entry for adults at just £5 and accompanied children under 18 admitted free, there should be another bumper crowd as the course swings back into action,
After the total shutdown of fixtures following the discovery of equine flu in three horses trained by Donald McCain which claimed Warwick’s Kingmaker Chase meeting two weeks ago, it will be all systems go on Friday and there has been a large number of entries across the seven-race card, topped by a bumper 44 in the closing British Stallion Studs EBF Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race (Qualifier).
Highlight of the afternoon is the £30,000 Feldon Dunsmore Budbrooke Handicap Chase over two-and-a-half miles and this Class 2 event has attracted 30 entries with the weights headed by Master Dee, owned by Paul and Clare Rooney. Master Dee is a winner of four chases but has not been seen out since being pulled up at Market Rasen in October and would face a stiff task.
Warwickshire trainer Dan Skelton has four entries in the race, including last year’s winner Cobra De Mai, who is 8lb higher in the weights this time. He needs to bounce back from a disappointing run at Cheltenham in December when pulled up in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup won by Frodon. That was a pretty hot contest, however, with the winner being aimed at the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup next month, so Cobra De Mai should find this an easier race.
Doitforthevillage is always worth a look at Warwick having won twice and been placed over the course, although he has worked his way up the handicap and is now running off his highest rating of 140. Last time, he finished a remote second to Cyrname but, with that horse’s demolition of a high-class field in a Grade 1 race at Ascot on Saturday, one of eight winners on the day for trainer Paul Nicholls, the form is looking pretty solid.
The action kicks off at 1.10pm with the British Stallion Studs EBF “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle (Qualifier) over two miles and three furlongs and, with 42 entries, it could be an open contest although, if Nicky Henderson runs Angels Breath here rather than go to Huntingdon or Exeter where he has other options, he would be the one they all have to beat.
Next up is the racingtv.com Juvenile Hurdle over the minimum trip of two miles and Henderson, who is trailing Nicholls in this season’s championship race, has a strong hand with three entries, the best of which could be Fusil Raffles, who would be making his British debut.
Gates open at 11.10am, two hours before the first race, and families can head for the Juniors Jumpers Zone, located in the Paddock Pavilion, for a whole host of activities including rosette making and face painting, as well as the popular Derby Horse Hoppers.