Double-header opens the curtain on the new season at Warwick Racecourse
JUMP racing returns to Warwick this week with a double-header today (Monday) and tomorrow (Tuesday) to welcome in the new season, writes David Hucker.
Monday's MansionBet Grand Season Opener carries over £51,000 in prize money and gets under way at 1.50pm with the MansionBet Proud To Support British Racing Novices' Hurdle over two miles and five furlongs in which Lambourn trainer Nicky Henderson runs Bangor-on-Dee winner First Street from his four entries.
He faces the progressive Van Meegeren, runner-up to Every Breakin Wave in a Class 3 event at Stratford-on-Avon last time out.
Successful syndicate owners Foxtrot Racing had two entries in the following MansionBet Bet £10 Get £20 Novices' Handicap Hurdle and have plumped for wide-margin Newton Abbot winner Beholden.
This is a much more competitive event, however, and he has to give weight to Onehundredpercent, successful on his British debut for trainer Brian Ellison and jockey Sam Twiston-Davies.
Zoffee ran well to get within a length of Getaway Trump on his only appearance over the Warwick fences last October to suggest he can take a hand in the feature race of the afternoon, the Class 3 MansionBet Faller Insurance Handicap Chase over two-and-a-half miles.
He does have to turn round the form with Vision Des Flos who beat him at Uttoxeter last time, but is 2lbs better off at the weights today.
Top weight Lock's Corner represents owner J P McManus from his two entries, but was well-beaten behind Cracking Destiny last time, and Vinnie The Hoodie, formerly with Oliver Sherwood, has his second run for Devon trainer Gail Haywood.
Trainer Pat Murphy runs Neverbeen To Paris in the Follow @mansionbet On Twitter Handicap Hurdle rather than in the final race, but he may struggle to give weight to Au Tailliur, who seeks a four-timer from a career-high mark.
Although carrying bottom weight, Kapsize would need a career-best performance off a handicap mark of 80 to land the MansionBet Watch and Bet Handicap Chase but, in this small field, looks the one beat before Not At Present can follow up his Worcester win in the closing Download The MansionBet App Handicap Hurdle from a 3lb higher mark.
Poundland Raceday on Tuesday, also comprising six races, starts at the later time of 2.10pm with the Poundland Foundation Supports Make-A-Wish UK Novices' Hurdle in which Sedgefield hurdles winner All Clenched Up could add to her record at the expense of Catbird Seat, who clearly has ability, but has been let down by his jumping in his two races so far.
Despite attracting only four runners, the Poundland Foundation Proudly Supports Tommy's Novices' Handicap Chase looks a trappy affair and could lie between Sir Tivo, who has been in excellent form during the summer, and Away At Dawn, the choice from two entries by trainer Donald McCain.
Isthebaropen and Jessica Rabbit renew rivalry in the Poundland Foundation Proudly Supports Whizz Mares' Handicap Hurdle with the latter 5lbs better off for a two-and-three-quarter length defeat at Bangor-on-Dee, but they may both have to give best to Irish point-to-point winner Present Storm, who could break her duck over hurdles for trainer Charlie Longsdon and jockey Brian Hughes.
Quartz Du Rheu seeks a hat-trick in the longest race of the afternoon, the Class 3 Logicor Handicap Chase over three-and-a-quarter miles, and trainer Jonjo O'Neill and jockey Kevin Brogan could double up with Pens Man in the following Happy 50th Birthday Julian Watson Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Chase.
Brianna Rose, runner-up in both her starts, may get her head in front in the closing Poundland Foundation Proudly Supports Kits 4 Kids Mares' Open National Hunt Flat Race, although market support for newcomer Betty's Belle would be worth noting.