Thankfully Warwick has passed an early morning inspection, but conditions at the Midlands track are likely to be at least as testing as they were for the Welsh National last weekend.
The cold, dry weather is likely to leave the ground very gluey and holding, so stamina will again be key.
Betfred ‘January Sale’ Handicap Chase
The Edward Courage Cup is the first handicap on the card and we like two at opposite ends of the market.
LASER HAWK has always looked a chaser in the making and, whatever he does here, he should go on to better the mark he reached over hurdles. Hopefully, that upward curve will start today as he looks reasonably treated despite top weight. The worry is that he might get a bit outpaced, as further may suit him in time, but these conditions will give him his best chance of a success over the minimum trip.
Owen Na View is a tempting alternative as he is bound to be winning again soon. There is still a question mark over whether he handles this ground though, so of those at bigger prices the French import, WALK IN THE MILL, looks the safer option.
He too may need a longer trip, but Robert Walford has shown with Camping Ground what he can do with lightly raced recruits from across the Channel and a slightly disappointing run at Chepstow last time can be ignored as a lot of horses doesn’t handle that circuit.
|Laser Hawk (ew)||1.15 Warwick||9/2||Bet365|
|Walk In The Mill (ew)||1.15 Warwick||10/1||Bet365, Betfred|
Betfred Mobile Hampton Novices’ Chase
The first listed race on the card is the Hampton Novices Chase where Willie Mullins’ Black Hercules will take all the beating. However, he’s priced accordingly and the best alternative looks to be DEFINITLY RED who stays well as is very game and consistent.
|Definitly Red (ew)||1.50 Warwick||9/2||Paddy Power|
Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle
There is a Pertemps qualifier at 2.25pm and 3m 2f over hurdles on this ground will take plenty of getting.
In his recent runs, HOWABOUTNEVER has shown himself to be an out and out stayer, and he looks one of the safer bets as he has course form on this ground. He also seems to be thriving at the moment.
The other interesting one is FLINTHAM, a half brother to Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Coneygree, who would be a warm favourite here based on his form last season. However, he has lost his way this campaign, but hopefully a decent break will have enabled trainer Mark Bradstock to iron out any issues and at today’s odds he is worth risking in the hope that he can bounce back to form.
|Howaboutnever (ew)||2.25 Warwick||7/1||Bet365|
|Flintham (ew)||2.25 Warwick||8/1||Bet365|
Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle
Willie Mullins could easily plunder another big novice race on the card – The Leamington Novices’ Hurdle at 3.00pm.
He has two strong contenders and it will be interesting to see how the pair of decent recruits from the flat fare against the more stoutly bred national hunt types, such as favourite Born Survivor.
However, at the prices, VIENS CHERCHER may prove better value than that trio. He had some decent form in France on soft ground and the step up in trip may see him improve enough to run into a place at least.
Were his horses in better form, last year’s runner up, Ballagh, would also have been interesting.
|Viens Chercher (ew)||3.00 Wetherby||18/1||Bet365|
Betfred Classic Chase
The day’s big race is the Classic Chase, where all of the big domestic yards are well represented.
Of those, we like the unexposed VIVALDI COLLONGES for a Paul Nicholls yard which has bounced back to form in recent weeks. He is only a novice, but has plenty of experience and should be suited by this marathon trip.
The bottom two in the weights are also interesting.
Foxbridge should enjoy this step back up in trip, but slight preference is for DE KERRY MAN, who was running an eye-catching race at Cheltenham last time before falling three out. He has to prove his stamina, but David Bridgwater is a top trainer when he has the ammunition and this horse looked a chaser to follow when reeling off a hat-trick last season.
Irish raider, DROMNEA, is also respected as he loves the ground and is unexposed at the trip.
|De Kerry Man (ew)||3.35 Warwick||8/1||Bet365|
|Vivaldi Collonges (ew)||3.35 Warwick||11/1||Bet365|
|Dromnea (ew)||3.35 Warwick||18/1||Bet365|
Asian Handicaps At 188bet Handicap Hurdle
Over at Wetherby, we are still convinced there is a race in SWNYMOR who we tipped unsuccessfully at Kempton over Christmas. We can’t, therefore, let him go unselected this afternoon, although his price does reflect the fact that he will need to seriously up his game if he is to get involved at the business end.
|Swnymor (ew)||2.40 Wetherby||14/1||Bet365|