Exciting prospects on view at Warwick's second fixture of November
WEDNESDAY sees the second meeting of the month at Warwick with the Class 3 Highflyer Bloodstock Novices' Chase one of seven races that get under way at 12.45pm, writes David Hucker.
Originally restricted to four-year-olds, the race was opened up to improve the field sizes, but there were only five runners in 2019 and just three a year later.
Last year's field was also short on numbers, but not on quality, as the race saw Alan King's classy young chaser Edwardstone, unluckily brought down on his previous visit to the course, get off the mark over fences at the third time of asking.
Edwardstone progressed through the season to land the prestigious Sporting Life Arkle Challenge Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival and this year's running could see another destined for the top in the shape of the exciting Jonbon, a full brother to Douvan who won 15 of his 19 races for trainer Willie Mullins.
Jonbon, who is in the care of Nicky Henderson, won four of his five hurdle starts last season, his only defeat coming at the hands of his stable companion Constitution Hill, the hot favourite for the Unibet Champion Hurdle next March.
Monmiral, who has always raced with give in the ground since coming from France, was withdrawn at Cheltenham on Saturday due to the faster conditions.
He finished runner-up, albeit beaten 14 lengths, to Jonbon's stable companion Epatante over hurdles on his last run at Aintree in April.
Making up the trio of runners is Dan Skelton's West Cork, who jumped to his right at the final fence here last time and was out-sped on the run-in by Stage Star.
The most valuable race of the afternoon is the £30,000 Racing TV Veterans' Handicap Chase (Leg 10 Of The Veterans' Chase Series) over a trip of three miles in which Snow Leopardess, who was pulled up in the Randox Grand National but won her three previous races, takes on 11 rivals including De Rasher Counter, who unseated his jockey that day.
De Rasher Counter is not the force of old but was a winner of the Ladbrokes Trophy Chase at Newbury three years ago and another to come into the reckoning in a fascinating and highly-competitive contest is Celebre D'Allen, also a winner of three races last season, including over the course, and not disgraced when fifth behind Coole Cody over a shorter distance at the Cheltenham Festival.
The Denis O'Connell Memorial Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle gets the action under way and Hexham winner Restitution could take this for trainer Alan King and jockey Alexander Thorne.
Despite having to carry a 7lb penalty, it is difficult to see past easy Stratford winner Gitche Gumee in the Watch On Racing TV "National Hunt" Novices' Hurdle and the exciting Lookaway, winner of a Grade 2 bumper at Aintree in the spring, makes his eagerly-awaited hurdling debut in the Derek Bridge Memorial Novices' Hurdle.
Anthony Honeyball saddles two of the four runners in the Visit racingtv.com Mares' Novices' Handicap Chase (Challenger Mares' Chase Series Qualifier) over two-and-a-half miles with Aidan Coleman taking the ride on Exeter winner Swincombe Fleat, before a maximum field of 18 line up for the closing David Nicholson Memorial Mares' Open National Hunt Flat Race.