Bumper crowd on the cards as Warwick Racecourse's final meeting of 2021 is sold out
ONCE again, racing in Wales is taking place behind closed doors and attendances in Scotland are limited to just 500 but, for now, it’s business as usual in England with Warwick’s Poundland New Year’s Eve Raceday sold out, writes David Hucker.
Always the meeting that attracts the largest crowd of the season, there will be no ticket sales on the day this year.
Officials are reminding those with tickets that everyone over the age of 18, unless exempt, must hold a valid NHS Covid Pass, or be in possession of proof of a negative lateral flow/PCR test taken within 48 hours of the event.
With persistent rain over the Christmas period and this week, the going is officially described as heavy, soft in places, and horses will need to be able to handle the testing conditions.
The seven-race card kicks off at noon with the Poundland – This Is Your Land Novices’ Handicap Hurdle over two miles and three furlongs in which 16 of the original 34 entries stood their ground at declaration time.
Pottlerath has yet to win in 18 runs over hurdles, but could go close here in what is his only entry of the week, with Benito, who showed improved form to finish third at Newcastle, also likely to be in contention.
Next up is the Poundland Foundation British Stallion Studs EBF Mares’ “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle over the longer trip of two miles and five furlongs.
Southwell bumper winner Marsh Wren improved on her first start over hurdles to finish runner-up at Fontwell Park three weeks ago and, at the weights, may prove too good for Leicester winner Love Envoi.
Dan Skelton’s Gentle Connections finished third on her hurdles debut at Uttoxeter and will come on for the experience.
The longest race of the afternoon is the third, the Poundland – Where Great Prices Rule Handicap Hurdle over three-and-a-quarter miles in which Sandy Brook, just touched off at Plumpton last time, might be good enough.
He has to give a lot of weight to Midnight Mary, who has been raised 4lbs for her Doncaster win, and there may not be much between them at the finish.
In Rem chases a four-timer for Jane and Chester Williams, but a 13lb hike in the weights may prove too much.
Past course winner Hamilton Dici could come out best in the Poundland – Your Land Of Amazing Value Handicap Chase over two-and-a-half miles, although top-weight Somekindofstar is hitting form and his trainer Lucy Wadham has a good record at the course.
Grand Turina looks to follow up his Lingfield win in the most valuable race of the afternoon, the £11,400 Poundland – The Land That Gives You More Conditional Jockeys’ Veterans’ Handicap Chase over three miles, and may have most to fear from Twojayslad.
Twelve have been declared for the Poundland – Proud To Support Warwick Racecourse Handicap Chase over two miles and, in what looks a competitive affair, Folly Gate who fell and pulled up in his only two chasing starts in 2020, could come out on top.
Just five of the runners in the closing Happy New Year From Poundland Open National Hunt Flat Race have seen a racecourse before and it may pay to take a chance with the Alan King-trained newcomer Technology, who runs here rather than at Exeter on New Year’s Day.
Another declared here rather than heading to Devon is the Kayf Tara gelding Filanderer, trained by Hughie Morrison, and Dan Skelton’s Steal My Sunshine, who hasn’t been seen out since finishing fourth on his debut two months ago, is another for the shortlist.