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TV cameras head to weekend Warwick meeting

THE ITV cameras return to Warwick on Saturday when the course stages its most prestigious race of the season, the Grade 2 JCB Kingmaker Novices’ Chase over two miles, reports David Hucker.

The strength of Warwick’s novice chase form was highlighted again on Saturday when Nickle Back, who opened his account over fences at the course in October, landed the Grade 1 Virgin Bet Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase at Sandown Park, providing jockey James Best, who won Warwick’s richest race, the Wigley Group Classic Chase, last month with another big Saturday success.

Worth £75,000, the Kingmaker has some illustrious names on its role of honour and, last year, was won by the high-class Jonbon who went on to finish runner-up to El Fabiolo in the Sporting Life Arkle

Challenge Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival. Jonbon had just one opponent to beat last season and, with only five entries, it looks as if this year’s contest will have a small field as well.

Arclight has rattled up a hat-trick over fences and would come fresh from a break, having last run in the middle of December. She would receive 7lbs from the geldings in the race and is a 20/1 shot for the Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase at the Festival.

Matata is the highest-rated of the five and finished runner-up to JPR One at Lingfield Park last time with Pembroke, who was given a walk-over at Warwick earlier in the season, seven lengths further away in third. Soul Icon finished third of four when upped to this grade at Kempton Park over Christmas with Bourbali bringing up the rear.

Arclight’s trainer Nicky Henderson provides two of the seven entries in the £30,000 Trustatrader Warwick Mares’ Hurdle (Listed Race) in the shape of Theatre Glory, who also holds an entry in Cheltenham’s Grade 1 Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle, and Spring Note. Last time out, Theatre Glory finished last of five to stable companion Marie’s Rock and will have to step up to close the gap on You Wear It Well, also holding a Cheltenham entry, who was second that day, beaten only 1½ lengths.

Should either make it to Cheltenham, they will find hot favourite Lossiemouth standing in the way, but can enjoy calmer waters at Warwick on Saturday.

There are plenty of entries in other races on the card with 20 in the racingtv.com Handicap Hurdle and 23 in the £30,000 Join Racing TV Now Handicap Hurdle. Even more valuable is the £35,000 Unibet Veterans’ Handicap Chase in which the lightly-raced Diego Du Charmil is an interesting entry for champion trainer Paul Nicholls.

The first race, the Racing TV Maiden Hurdle gets underway at 1.10pm and the Racing TV Mares’ Open National Hunt Flat Race completes the afternoon’s action at 4.40pm.

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