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Lots to look forward to at Warwick Racecourse

DESPITE last week’s Warwick’s Eventmasters Christmas At The Races meeting being abandoned after heavy overnight frost, the course has plenty to look forward to over the coming months, writes David Hucker.

Abandonments at Warwick are, thankfully, few and far between, as the course is well-drained and the track has seen continuous improvement over recent years.

The last meeting to be lost was this season’s opener on 19th September, which was cancelled due to the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II and, prior to that, Kingmaker Day last year was put back 48 hours because of a frozen track.

There is one more meeting planned for this year, the highly popular Poundland New Year’s Eve Raceday, featuring seven races, the first of which is due off at 11.55am, with the highlight being the £16,400 Carlow Conditional Jockeys’ Veterans’ Handicap Chase over three miles.

Jonbon has been a star performer at Warwick. Photo: David Pratt / dwprattracingphotography (61359812)
Jonbon has been a star performer at Warwick. Photo: David Pratt / dwprattracingphotography (61359812)

The star performer at the course so far this season has been Jonbon, easy winner of the Class 3 Highflyer Bloodstock Novices’ Chase last month.

Jonbon’s only career defeat came at the hands of his stable companion Constitution Hill, the hot favourite for the Unibet Champion Hurdle, and he put in a superb round of jumping to win at Warwick.

He is following in the footsteps of last year’s winner Edwardstone, who went on to lift the prestigious Sporting Life Arkle Challenge Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival.

Like Edwardstone before him, Jonbon followed up his Warwick win in the Grade 1 Close Brothers Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown Park earlier this month and is set to follow the same path and return to Warwick for the Grade 2 Kingmaker Chase in February.

The Kingmaker has an illustrious roll-call of winners as, in addition to Edwardstone, Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Long Run won it in 2010 and champion two-mile chaser Finian’s Rainbow scored the following year.

Prior to Kingmaker Day, the 50th anniversary of The Wigley Group Classic Chase will take place on Saturday, 14th January.

The most valuable race of the season to be run at Warwick, it will have the added attraction of a bonus, offered by the sponsors, of £100,000 if the winner goes on to success in the Randox Grand National at Aintree, a feat last achieved by the Lucinda Russell-trained One For Arthur in 2017.

First won by Princess Camilla in 1973, leading trainers Alan King and Emma Lavelle have both been successful twice in the race in the last ten years.

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