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Racecourse under starter's orders for May Racing Carnival

MONDAY sees the start of Warwick’s Qatar Airways May Racing Carnival with over £250,000 in prize money on offer across four meetings which bring the curtain down on the course’s 2017-18 season, writes David Hucker.

Extended from three meetings to four this year, each fixture at the Carnival will incorporate a different theme to give people of all ages an opportunity to enjoy the fun at the Jockey Club racecourse.

As well as sponsoring a race at each fixture, Qatar will back a contest for the leading trainers and jockeys over the four days.

The Kids Carnival Day, which opens the festivities, will have a host of free entertainment and activities for children taking place alongside the racing, with Peter Rabbit attending as special guest. It gets underway at 1.30pm, with the highlight being the fourth, the £11,400 Qatar Airways Handicap Chase over two and a half miles.

Ten will line up for the feature race, with Easy Street topping the handicap with 11-12. He has dropped back down the weights and is now on the same mark as when last winning at Fontwell Park 13 months ago, but preference is for Modeligo, who thrives at this time of the year and, although back up to his highest winning mark of 106 after his latest victory at Chepstow, can win again for trainer Matt Sheppard and his jockey son Stan.

Huntingdon winner Lungarno Palace sets the standard in the opening Olly Murphy Racing Novices' Hurdle, but he carries 6lb more than his rivals for that success and has since been beaten at Kempton Park. Gortroe Joe runs for course ambassador Dan Skelton, who kicked off the new season with a four-timer at Uttoxeter on Saturday, and could step up here with better ground to race on.

Simply The Betts won a bumper at Market Rasen last September, but failed to follow up in four runs over hurdles. The last of these was the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and he will find the opposition a lot less daunting in the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing "National Hunt" Maiden Hurdle over two miles.

Despite carrying top weight, Asum is not without a chance in the Molly Ollys Wishes Novices' Handicap Chase, but dual hurdle winner Free Stone Hill might break his duck over fences to give Skelton a double.

Great Alne trainer Robin Dickin runs two in the Visit The All New racinguk.com Handicap Hurdle, with course winner Wildmoor Boy having his first race since a wind operation. The vote goes to Joycetick, who was clear of the field when coming down at the penultimate flight at Kempton Park on his last run and makes his handicap debut here.

Harry Reed and Be Daring may get their head in front in the Agetur Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle, although the consistent Bring Back Charlie shouldn’t be very far away.

The Henry J Socks Ltd Handicap Hurdle has been divided into two, making it an eight-race card. Breaking Ground has to overcome an 8lb rise in the weights for his wide-margin Exeter win in the first division, whilst Taylor Tom is a speculative selection in an open-looking second.

There is free entry for accompanied children under 18 and ample car parking in the centre of the course.

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