THERE are plenty of puzzles to unravel for racegoers on Warwick’s eight-race card on Monday afternoon, when the meeting gets underway at 2.00pm with the Apollobet Best Odds Guaranteed Maiden Hurdle over two miles and five furlongs, writes David Hucker.
Richard Johnson became only the third jockey in history to ride 200 winners in a season when he won on Cheat The Cheater at the course in February. He comes into the meeting with a score of 221, level with Peter Scudamore’s then record tally in 1988/89, and could go one better on Bacchanel in the opener.
Placed in all four starts so far, Bacchanel will be making his debut over hurdles today and may have most to fear from Mercian King, who has had just one run for Over Norton trainer Charlie Longsdon since coming from France. Already experienced over fences, Mercian King made his British debut in a handicap hurdle at Market Rasen when ridden by Johnson and Aidan Coleman takes over in the saddle today.
Next up is Free £10 Bet Novices’ Handicap Chase in which Cheat The Cheater is out to chalk up another course win under top weight. His last success here was off a rating of 96 and he has been beaten since when carrying 5lb more, the same mark as he runs off today. He will need a career-best performance over fences to win again, but has scored from a rating of 115 over hurdles.
Johnson rides Broome Lane for Welsh trainer Tim Vaughan and, after two placed efforts in point-to-points, he will be making his chase debut this afternoon.
Three races carry a prize fund of £10,000 the first of which is the Listers Audi Novices’ Handicap Hurdle in which Template and the Dan Skelton trained Robin of Locksley share top weight.
Instant Karma is the only jumper in the 80-plus string of Newmarket trainer Michael Bell and he had another of today’s runners Gin And Tonic behind him when winning at Fakenham last month. At the weights today, there shouldn’t be much between them this time and Gin And Tonic has since made a winning return to the Norfolk track, coming here in good form.
Just six line up for the Apollobet Cash Back If You Finish 2nd Handicap Chase, a race for horses that have run in at least four chases, but not won any race during the last year. Shangani looks the pick of the two Venetia Williams runners and, although his winless streak goes back over two years, he could come out on top today if reproducing the form of that last success when taking the Grade 3 Greatwood Gold Cup at Newbury off a rating of 132.
There is a competitive field for the Apollobet Cashback Specials Handicap Hurdle over three miles and a furlong and one for the shortlist is duel Exeter winner You Say What who looks to be on the upgrade and could defy a 5lb rise in the weights.
Bottom weight is course winner Extreme Impact and, although tailed off at Chepstow last time, would have a chance here if putting his best foot forward.
There is another small field for the Apollobet Masters Golf Handicap Chase and it could go to Modeligo, who returns to the minimum trip of two miles, over which he was twice successful last summer, after several failures over longer distances.
The concluding National Hunt Flat Race has been divided into two and Azzerti, trained by Alan King, could step up on his debut fourth at Kempton to take the first division from Misterton.
Nightfly, runner-up here on her debut in February, looks the form choice in the second, although trainer Philip Hobbs, who sent out the winner that day, will have a good idea of the chances of his debutant Longtown.