The Gentleman’s Raceday, featuring the Kingmaker Chase, is one of the highlights of the racing year at Warwick and there are plenty of prizes to be won both on and off the track on Saturday, writes David Hucker.
Racing highlight of the afternoon is the Grade 2 Betway Kingmaker Novices’ Chase worth £40,000. The race, which is named after Richard Neville, the 16th Earl of Warwick, has been won in the past by some top-class horses, including Cheltenham Festival winners Finian’s Rainbow, Flagship Uberalles and Long Run.
One of three races being broadcast on ITV4, this year’s contest has been the target for Harry Whittington’s Saint Calvados since chalking up his second Newbury success last month. All five of his career wins have come on soft or heavy ground and he should take this contest before heading to the Cheltenham Festival where he holds entries in the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy and JLT Novices’ Chase.
Plenty of trainers have multiple entries in the opening Visit The All New racinguk.com Novices’ Hurdle due off at 1.30pm, including Ben Pauling with four and Dan Skelton with three. With 31 entries in all, the race looks like setting punters a real puzzle and it will be interesting to see who they latch on to come raceday.
Midnight Tour tops the ratings in the second, the olbg.com Mares’ Hurdle (Listed Race) (Registered As The Warwick Mares’ Hurdle) and if reproducing her run behind the highly-regarded La Bague Au Roi, rated at 152 after her latest success, would be the one to catch.
However, she was last of four finishers on her subsequent start and could be in a battle with the likes of Rons Dream and Poppy Kay among the challengers.
There is another £40,000 in the prize fund for the All Cheltenham Live On Racing UK Warwick Castle Handicap Chase, in which the classy Kylemore Lough would carry top weight. Also among the entries is the popular veteran Thomas Crapper, trained by Robin Dickin at Great Alne.
The trip is three-and-a-quarter miles for the John Lockley 60th Birthday Celebration Handicap Hurdle and, in an open-looking field, Travertine is taken to improve for a step back up in distance.
Fountains Windfall, who came right back to his best last time out, has four entries over the weekend and would have a good chance of taking the concluding Wise Betting At racinguk.com Novices’ Chase.
General manager Andre Klein said: “The Gentleman’s Raceday is one of the best fixtures of our season and provides a great opportunity for gents to dress up in their most dapper clothing and win some great prizes.”
“We’ll be hosting a knight from Warwick Castle on the day, who will certainly be a force to be reckoned with when it comes to being best-dressed!”
“Without Warwick Castle there might not have been any horse racing in the town. After the Great Fire in 1694, the Earl wanted to bring people back into the town so he helped set up racing, which was a great success.”
For ticket information call 405560 or go to www.warwickracecourse.co.uk