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Fingers crossed at course for a big crowd

AFTER the loss of yet another fixture in Easter week, Warwick will be hoping for some good weather and a big crowd for today’s annual Molly Ollys Race Day, writes David Hucker.

The day is held in aid of Warwickshire-based charity Molly Ollys, which supports children with life-threatening illnesses and their families to help with their emotional wellbeing. Highlight of the bumper eight-race card is the £20,000 John Sillett Memorial Handicap Hurdle over three miles and one furlong, which remembers the former Coventry City manager who was also a successful racehorse breeder.

This week’s racing action has been run against the backdrop of the battle to become champion jumps trainer when the season finishes at Sandown Park on Saturday. The title is decided on the amount of prize money won and Shelfield Green trainer Dan Skelton started the week in second place, just over £150,000 behind Willie Mullins who is looking to be the first Irish trainer to win since the legendary Vincent O’Brien 70 years ago. Mullins increased his lead when Rath Gaul Boy, his first-ever runner at Ffos Las, scored on Monday whilst Skelton drew a blank with his six runners.

Skelton made 18 entries at Warwick and runs Juan Bermudez, well-beaten on his hurdles debut at Fakenham last month, in the first division of the Charlie Wilson Memorial Maiden Hurdle which gets the afternoon underway at 1.30pm. He should improve for that run, but Zonda, runner-up to El Saviour cover the course last month, looks the stronger candidate. Point-to-point winner Golden De Coeur has been knocking on the door over hurdles and, along with Old Time Chaser, look the best in the second division.

With 15 runners, the Zircom Data Communications 30th Anniversary Novices’ Handicap Chase over three miles should be a competitive affair and Village Master, ridden by Harry Cobden who leads the race to be champion jockey, could follow up his Hereford success.

Course bumper winner Kintail has had a three-month break and seeks a second hurdles win in the Visit racingtv.com Handicap Hurdle in which Halondo, a winner when trained by Olly Murphy and having his first run for Harriet Dickin, carries top weight.

Cobden will also be on board Hidalgo Des Bordes, a winner at Exeter on Friday, who looks to double up in the Bet At racingtv.com Handicap Chase and amongst his rivals is Skelton’s Omaha Wish, a winner of his only point-to-point 18 months ago and trying fences for the first time in public today.

Skelton saddles Take No Chances, beaten a nose by Zain Nights at Newbury last time, in the feature race. She was 23 lengths in front of Jatiluwih, who re-opposes today and, despite a rise of 5lbs in her rating, can win from bottom-weight Jupiter Allen who won at Exeter last month on very different ground.

The closing racingtv.com Open National Hunt Flat Race has also been divided and Skelton saddles Ace of Spades, who has shown promise in both his starts, in the first division and Jafimgoso, who weakened in the closing stages on his debut, in the second.

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