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Looking ahead to next week's Stratford and Warwick meetings

THE Cheltenham Festival is over for another year, but there is still plenty of jump racing action to come, including the Randox Health Grand National, before the 2020-21 season ends next month, writes David Hucker.

Stratford Racecourse. Photo: Mark Williamson S82/8/20/1954
Stratford Racecourse. Photo: Mark Williamson S82/8/20/1954

This time last year, racing had been suspended under the national coronavirus lockdown but, although still not open to the public, next week sees meetings locally at both Stratford and Warwick.

Under the government’s coronavirus roadmap, racing will still be taking place behind closed doors until 17th May at the earliest, but fans can follow the action at both meetings live on subscription channel Racing TV.

One jockey who gave the Cheltenham Festival a miss was defending champion Brian Hughes, who went in search of winners elsewhere, increasing his lead over Harry Skelton to ten going into last weekend.

The two had gone head-to-head at the last Stratford meeting, finishing with two winners apiece, and the race for the title, with Harry Cobden also mounting a challenge, will be a feature of the remaining weeks.

Stratford’s seven-race card on Monday, the second meeting of the 2022 season, kicks off at 2.20pm with the Watch On Racing TV Novices’ Hurdle (Novices’ Championship Hurdle Series Qualifier) over two miles and half a furlong.

Next up is the Join Racing TV Now Handicap Chase over two miles and three furlongs followed by the Racecourse Live Steams On Racing TV Extra Selling Hurdle over an extended two-and-a-quarter miles, after which the winner will be put up for auction.

The Class3 Bet At racingtv.com Handicap Hurdle over three-and-a-quarter miles precedes the feature race of the afternoon, the £12,200 Visit racingtv.com Handicap Chase over two-and -hree-quarter miles.

The sixth is the 100% Racing TV Profits Go Back To Racing Handicap Hurdle over two-and-three-quarter miles and the afternoon rounds off with the Every Race Live On Racing TV Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race.

Tuesday is Air Wedding Hunter Chase Day at Warwick which remembers one of the founding mares of the succession of successful hunter chasers owned and trained by John Thorne at Chesterton near Leamington Spa.

Air Wedding was the dam of Polaris Missile and her son Spartan Missile, by Chesterton stallion Spartan General, was ridden by Thorne, aged 54, to finish second to Aldaniti in the 1981 Grand National.

Thorne had returned to race riding after his son Nigel was killed in a car accident, only to die tragically himself a year later from a fall at the Bicester point-to-point.

Monday is the first day that amateur riders are expected to be permitted to return to race riding in England as part of the restarting of grassroots sport but, with no hunter chases scheduled that day, Warwick’s Air Wedding race will be the first that they will be able to ride in this season.

The seven-race card opens with the Join Racing TV Now Maiden Hurdle at 1.50pm over two miles and five furlongs, followed by the Watch On Racing TV Mares’ Novices’ Handicap Chase over three miles.

The trip is three-and-a-quarter miles for the third, the longest race of the afternoon, the Every Race Live On Racing TV Novices’ Handicap Hurdle before the feature race, the Class3 Bet At racingtv.com Handicap Chase over two miles.

The runners will be again racing over two miles for the visit racingtv.com Handicap Hurdle which precedes the Air Wedding Open Hunters’ Steeple Chase over half a mile further. The racingtv.com Maiden Open National Hunt Flat Race brings the afternoon to a close.

Tickets are now on sale, with a money-back guarantee, for the Proudly Warwick Raceday to be held on Wednesday, 19th where the course celebrates and showcases the local community.

Bookings for the popular Proudly Warwick Raceday can be made at www.thejockeyclub.co.uk/warwick.

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