BUSINESS Networking Raceday returns to Warwick on Friday with former England Rugby World Cup winning star Mike Tindall the guest speaker ahead of the afternoon’s seven-race card, writes David Hucker.
Feature race of the day is the £15,000 Integral Novices’ Chase over two miles and course ambassador Dan Skelton should lift the first prize with Shantou Rock, who won well on his first run over fences at Newton Abbot.
Runner-up The Unit did the form no harm when finishing third to the classy Willoughby Court at Huntingdon on Sunday and Shantou Rock will be a short price to give Skelton, who landed a double at Market Rasen yesterday, his 92nd winner of the season.
Fields Of Fortune failed to win on the Flat, but has been schooling well for Alan King and could get off the mark in the Racing UK’s Biggest Ever Free Trial Juvenile Hurdle which gets racing underway at 12.50pm.
Writing in his Racing Post Weekender column, King said: “I thought he was moderate when he arrived from the Richard Hannon yard a couple of months ago, but then he started to work better and ran very encouragingly on his final outing on the Flat, finishing second on heavy ground at Salisbury.”
He could have a fight on his hands from We Have A Dream, who has had three runs in France and by-passed a race at Market Rasen yesterday.
His trainer Nicky Henderson currently lies 11th in the championship table but, with his star horses yet to make an appearance this season, is strongly fancied to land back-to-back titles next April.
Longest race of the day is the Hy-Kleen Of Warwick Novices’ Hurdle over three and a quarter miles and Whitsbury trainer Paul Henderson looked to have this on his radar with four entries.
He has declared just the one runner in Hatchet Jack, but he will be among the outsiders and two that appeal more are Kim Bailey’s Station Master, who ran well on his hurdles debut at Exeter, and dual bumper winner Just A Thought, the only mare in the race, who finished runner-up at Chepstow last time.
There is a competitive field of 12 for the Trial Racing UK For Free Now Handicap Hurdle over two miles in which Zen Master can follow up his Market Rasen success, where he made all the running to score on his second outing for trainer Charlie Mann.
Lunar Flow has been put up 9lbs for his recent win when he overcame a couple of mistakes to lead on the run-in and beat Audacious Plan.
He sets the standard in the Racing UK Free For A Month Handicap Chase over three miles and a furlong, but may find course winner Bronco Billy hard to beat, if he can put his last run when pulled up at Uttoxeter behind him.
Nine will line up for the racinguk.com/Freetrial Handicap Chase, including Bestwork, who had a profitable summer, winning three times, but may find the ground a little too soft today. Although not seen out since last year, No Ceiling has form on good to soft going and could be the one to be on.
A maximum field of 18 has been declared for the concluding George Mernagh Memorial Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race, in which Liz’s Dream would have to defy a penalty for her Fontwell Park win.
My Dance disappointed when odds-on favourite on her debut at Stratford in June, but should improve for the experience, and Kimberley Point looks the pick of two from the King stable.
Looking further ahead, next Thursday sees Warwick competing with two other courses to be crowned Groundstaff Champion for 2017 at the annual Showcase & Awards ceremony at Newbury Racecourse.
The award, which celebrates excellence in turf husbandry across all British racecourses is divided into flat, jump and dual-purpose codes. Warwick, which has won the jump category, will be up against Newmarket from the flat and dual-purpose track Leicester for the overall accolade.
The award recognises the effort and expertise required to integrate the old flat course into the jumps track at the section beyond the stands leading towards the hill, with the judges saying: “As well as investment in equipment through the replacement of six furlongs of running rail, they have shown a commitment to people which is above and beyond what is required.”