Bumper fields expected for Warwick’s festive fixture

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Maire Banrigh is expected to do well in the £25,000 Actioncoach Lady Godiva Mares' Novices Chase. Photo: David Pratt / dwprattracingphotography

HORSE RACING

WARWICK’S jumps season continues tomorrow, Thursday, with the Eventmasters Christmas At The Races meeting and there could be some big fields in prospect after a bumper entry for the seven-race card, writes David Hucker.

The action gets under way at 12.20pm with the Agetur UK Juvenile Maiden Hurdle, won last year by David Pipe’s Teaser, who has gone on to be a useful novice chaser this summer.

Usually, these races see a mix of horses who, like Teaser, have been busy on the flat and who come race-fit, and slower-maturing types for whom juvenile hurdles are their first experience on a racecourse.

Trainer Alan King has three entries, but with Peckinpah declared to run at Fontwell Park earlier in the week, this leaves a choice between the experienced Blacko, who would be making his British debut after two runs in France, and Tronada, placed in all four of her two-year-old races, but largely disappointing this year.

Highlight of the afternoon is the £25,000 Actioncoach Lady Godiva Mares’ Novices Chase, a Listed race, which has attracted a good quality field.

Top-rated With Discretion was declared to run at Uttoxeter on Tuesday, but would, in any event, have faced a formidable opponent in Maire Banrigh, who created a favourable impression when carrying a big weight to victory on her chasing debut at Stratford and then followed up in a higher class race over the Warwick course last month, putting in an exhibition round of jumping with Harry Skelton to beat Thomas Darby.

The M-Tec Consulting Group Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race, which brings the afternoon to a close, was won last year by 5-1 shot Keep Rolling, owned by the Mick Fitzgerald Racing Club, who completed a double on the card for jockey Richard Johnson.

Crowds tend to drift away for these races, often run in near darkness at this time of the year, but they can throw up some useful horses and those who stayed to the end at the last meeting may well have seen a couple of bright prospects in the Anthony Honeyball trained pair Belle De Manech and Coquelicot, who dominated the closing stages.

Only a third of the 36 entries have appeared on the racecourse, so there is not much form to go on, but all the big stables are represented, with Nicky Henderson having three to choose from, and the betting market may prove the best guide.

Alcester trainer Dan Skelton has continued to send out a regular flow of winners at the course and the success of Emmas Joy in the opening race at the last meeting took his score to five for the current season.

He was joined at the top of the leaderboard by Philip Hobbs, who posted a treble on the day, all ridden by Johnson, who is chasing his fifth title in a row.