Soft option pleases trainers at Warwick

The prayers of jumps trainers for rain have been answered this week and, with the ground turning to soft, there are 93 runners for Warwick's bonus meeting today, writes David Hucker.

Thursday, 29th November 2018, 11:21 am
Updated Wednesday, 9th January 2019, 3:29 am
Warwick Racecourse

Warwick has benefited from the reallocation of fixtures originally awarded to Towcester when that course went into administration earlier this year and the seven-race card kicks off at 12.05pm with the 18-runner Play Your Racing Pools At Colossus Maiden Hurdle, in which reigning champion jockey Richard Johnson and title contender Harry Skelton both have rides.

Despite drawing a blank in the last two days, Johnson has notched up 135 winners at a strike rate of 23% so far this season, with Skelton, who has gone eight rides since his last win on Sunday, on the 119-mark.

Redzor, runner-up on his first run under Rules at Aintree, could get the afternoon off to a good start for Skelton to close the gap on the champion. In third place that day was Captain Drake and, with the two horses meeting on the same terms here, there is no reason why Redzor cannot confirm the placings.

Likely favourite is Nestor Park, sixth in a Class 1 event at Cheltenham last time, whose trainer Ben Pauling was on the mark in the opener at the last meeting.

Whatever the fate of Captain Drake, trainer Harry Fry and jockey Noel Fehily should be on the mark in the following mares’ hurdle with Market Rasen bumper scorer Definitelyanoscar, although wide-margin course winner Barbados Blue will not make life easy for her.

The smallest field of the afternoon lines up for the Cash Out & Consolations At Colossus Novices’ Handicap Chase with Windspiel and Tom Cannon fancied to see off their eight rivals.

By contrast, there is a field of 15 for the day’s feature race, the £11,000 Handicap Hurdle, to be run over two miles and five furlongs and, in an open-looking contest, Subcontinent could follow up his Perth win for trainer Venetia Williams, whose stable usually starts to strike top form when the November rains arrive.

Dan and Harry Skelton also look to have a good chance with Sounds Of Italy in the three-mile Play The Saturday 7 At Handicap Chase. A winner of two point-to-points on soft ground, as well as breaking his duck under Rules on yielding going, Sounds Of Italy was a beaten favourite on his latest run and needs to bounce back to the form of his Uttoxeter win last month.

The closing bumper for three-year-olds could lie between L’Incorrigible, whose trainer Tom Lacey is building a reputation in this type of event, and Nicky Henderson’s Twist. As always, with little form to go on, the betting market should give punters a clue as to which horses are fancied.