Promise of more exciting racing at Warwick this Thursday

Dan Skelton's Mister Universum (5) is a top weight in the Ignite Incentives Handicap Hurdle on Thursday. Photo: David Pratt / dwprattracingphotography


AFTER some exciting finishes at last week’s two-day opening to the new Warwick season, there is promise of more to come when the course is back in action on Thursday, writes David Hucker.

With the end of the summer jumping programme, October signals the start of the main part of the season, which takes in the Cheltenham and Aintree Festivals and runs through to April.

Right on cue, the rain has come to soften the ground and encourage trainers to get their higher-class horses out onto the course and the tempo will quicken noticeably over the coming weeks.

One trainer who has been busy over the summer is Alcester-based Dan Skelton and he took the first race at the course last week with Bbold to keep up his good record in novice events.

He has two entries in today’s Bet At “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle over two miles, which kicks off the afternoon’s racing at 2pm, in the shape of Milan’s Society and Shelfield, owned by Skelton’s father Nick.

Shelfield hasn’t exactly set the world alight, but has been gelded since last seen at Market Rasen in March and may show improved from, although there are others with more obvious chances, including 129-rated past course winner Golden Taipan, who has another entry at Huntingdon, and jumping debutant Chance A Tune, whose trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies is in red-hot form.

Another to note is Minella Beat, but trainer Jamie Snowden also has him entered in the following Agetur Maiden Hurdle over the longer trip of two miles and five furlongs where he could come up against Shah An Shah, whose trainer Charlie Longsdon was in sparkling form with three winners at the course last week.

The star entry for the Racing TV Profits Returned To Racing Beginners’ Chase is 151-rated hurdler Ballymoy, who was never travelling well when finishing last in Fontwell Park’s National Spirit Hurdle in February.

If he takes to fences, he will be hard to beat, although three-time hurdle winner Equus Amadeus, trained by the excellent Tom Lacey, could improve further as a chaser.

With 23 entries, the Ignite Incentives Handicap Hurdle looks like producing a competitive contest and Skelton has the two top weights in Gortroe Joe and Mister Universum.

The lightly-raced Rococo River doesn’t look to have been done any favours by the handicapper with a mark of 118 for his handicap debut, being 1lb above Pink Eyed Pedro, who has had a good summer campaign, but is probably better over fences than hurdles.

Owner J P McManus has two entries in the Colliers International Business Rates Handicap Chase in Dieg Man and For Good Measure, runner-up at a slightly longer trip over the course last week, but this could go to the mare Chasma, who would be having just her third race for Dan Skelton, having scored on her debut for the stable at Newton Abbot.

Sid Hoodie, withdrawn from a race here last week, is entered in the Follow @racingtv On Twitter Mares’ Handicap Hurdle, as is course winner Shufoog, who has been busy on the flat this summer, but has shown her best form on good ground, so the recent rain would be a worry.

Past course winner Olly The Brave would have to concede weight to all his rivals in the closing Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race and could come up against two making their racecourse debuts after winning their only point-to-point in Exod’ela, who missed an engagement in a similar contest at Sedgefield on Tuesday, and Hometown Boy.

Market support for Thais Toir, whose stable does well in these events, would be worth heeding.

  • After a short break, racing returns to Stratford next Monday with the first of three meetings during October, starting at 1.45pm.