Valtor heads weights for Warwick's highlight race
SEVEN have been declared for the £24,000 racingtv.com Veterans' Handicap Chase – the highlight of Warwick's seven-race card on Wednesday – with Valtor, looking for his first win in nearly a year, heading the weights, writes David Hucker.
A winner of £475,000 in prize money, Valtor is now 4lb lower than when last scoring at Ascot.
Vintage Clouds and Theatre Guide ran in another veterans race at Aintree last month and renew rivalry on identical terms here, but it's Present Man, who was badly hampered by a faller at the third-last fence when sixth to El Presente in the Badger Beers Silver Trophy Chase at Wincanton, who can come out on top with Bryony Frost.
Dan and Harry Skelton took last year's running of the opening Racing TV Free For A Month “National Hunt” Novices' Hurdle with odds-on favourite Emmas Joy and they run Cadzand, who returned after a long absence and wind surgery to finish second to Do Your Job at Ayr, although never able to mount a challenge to the winner who made all the running.
Twominutes Turkish is the only winner in the field, having scored by 15 lengths at Fakenham and the unraced Guy De Guye, trained by Colin Tizzard whose horses are beginning to strike form, is the selected runner from three entries for leading owner J P McManus.
Simply Loveleh, pulled up on her last two starts, is the choice from three entries for the Skeltons in the Start Your Racing TV Free Trial Now Mares' Novices' Handicap Chase over two-and-a-half miles, but she needs to recapture her form to feature here and Arian, a winner at Newton Abbot on her first start for trainer Philip Hobbs, looks a safer bet.
Alan King saddles two of the six runners in the Try Racing TV For Free Now Mares' Novices' Hurdle over two miles and five furlongs, but it's Olly Murphy's Alpha Carinae who sets the standard having won two of her three starts under Rules.
She lost her unbeaten record to Aggy With It at Market Rasen last month, but that horse won again at Taunton last week, beating another Murphy-trained horse in Fitzroy, so the form looks strong.
Just three of the eight entries have been declared for the Highflyer Bloodstock Novices' Chase but, despite the small field, it could still prove to be an interesting contest with little to choose between the runners.
Paul Nicholls runs Stratagem from his two entries and, as a four-year-old, he receives weight from his two rivals.
Bought from France, he was ridden in his first two British starts by owner David Maxwell, winning on the second by a wide margin at Kelso.
With Maxwell injured, Harry Cobden took over at Cheltenham last month, but Stratagem ran disappointingly behind Botox Has and has been switched to chasing.
The lightly-raced Phoenix Way is another to make his chasing debut in the J P McManus colours and this dual hurdles winner also has an Irish point-to-point win on his CV.
Making up the trio is Quick Grabim, the most experienced horse in the race with 15 starts under Rules and runner-up to Fusil Raffles on his chasing debut.
The winner was never going well in a higher class race at Cheltenham on Saturday, but has an official rating of 152, so Quick Grabim arguably brings the best form into the race.
Star Of Rory, unplaced behind the in-form Captain Tom Cat at Cheltenham on his seasonal debut, carries top weight in the Jumps At Home With Free Racing TV Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle, but still looks the one to beat.
Hoopmalassie makes the journey from Scotland for the closing David Nicholson Memorial Fillies' “Junior” Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race and, in a race with little form to go on, Sweet Nightingale could put the experience of her Exeter debut run to good use.