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Large number of entries for seven-race card at Warwick on Friday

A BUMPER crowd is expected at Warwick Racecourse on Friday for the annual Budbrooke Chase Family Day, writes David Hucker.

After the shutdown of fixtures following the recent discovery of equine flu in three horses trained by Donald McCain which claimed Warwick’s Kingmaker Chase meeting two weeks ago, it will be all systems go on Friday.

There has been a large number of entries across the seven-race card, topped by a bumper 44 in the closing British Stallion Studs EBF Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race (Qualifier).

One trainer who will not have runners at the meeting is Wilmcote-based Olly Murphy, who has been critical of the British Horseracing Authority’s sudden change to the rule on vaccination of horses as part of the decision to resume racing.

Previously, horses had to have received their flu jab within the past 12 months, but that was shortened to six months in the light of the positive tests which rose to ten in all before racing returned.

Whilst leading trainers Paul Nicholls and Colin Tizzard have their whole strings vaccinated early in the year, others do it at different times and Murphy wasn’t alone in not being able to run a number of his horses until booster jabs were done.

He ran just one horse last week and made three entries at Taunton on Tuesday, but has no more over jumps this week.

Highlight of the afternoon is the £30,000 Feldon Dunsmore Budbrooke Handicap Chase over two-and-a-half miles and this Class Two event has attracted 30 entries with the weights headed by Master Dee, owned by Paul and Clare Rooney.

Master Dee is a winner of four chases, but has not been seen out since being pulled up at Market Rasen in October and would face a stiff task.

Alcester trainer Dan Skelton has four entries in the race, including last year’s winner Cobra De Mai, who is 8lb higher in the weights this time. He needs to bounce back from a disappointing run at Cheltenham in December when pulled up in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup won by Frodon. That was a pretty hot contest, however, with the winner being aimed at the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup next month, so Cobra De Mai should find this an easier race.

Doitforthevillage is always worth a look at Warwick, having won twice and been placed over the course, although he is has worked his way up the handicap and is now running off his highest rating of 140.

Last time, he finished a remote second to Cyrname but, with that horse’s demolition of a high-class field in a Grade One race at Ascot on Saturday, one of eight winners on the day for trainer Paul Nicholls, the form is looking pretty solid.

The action kicks off at 1.10pm with the British Stallion Studs EBF “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle (Qualifier) over two miles and three furlongs and, with 42 entries, it could be an open contest.

However, if Nicky Henderson runs Angels Breath here rather than go to Huntingdon or Exeter where he has other options, he would be the one they all have to beat.

Next up is the racingtv.com Juvenile Hurdle over the minimum trip of two miles and Henderson, who is trailing Nicholls in this season’s championship race, has a strong hand with three entries, the best of which could be Fusil Raffles, who would be making his British debut.

Three miles is the trip for the £16,400 UBS Wealth Management Mares’ Handicap Chase (Qualifier For The Challenger Mares' Chase Series Final) and course winner Marienstar would be another dropping in class after falling in a valuable Listed race at Huntingdon last time.

She would have to give weight away to all her rivals, however, and is 9lb worse off with Black Tulip compared to their run over the course in November. Gates open at 11.10am and families can head for the Juniors Jumpers Zone for activities including rosette making and face painting as well as the Derby Horse Hoppers.

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