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Young guns may take crown from experienced Western Climate at Warwick Racecourse

THE Cheltenham Festival will dominate the headlines next week but, before the four-day racing bonanza gets under way on Tuesday, sister course Warwick stages a good quality seven-race card sponsored by MansionBet on Sunday, writes David Hucker.

Last year's winner Western Climate is among the 21 entries for the Class 3 MansionBet Bet 10 Get 20 Handicap Chase. Photo: David Pratt / dwprattracingphotography
Last year's winner Western Climate is among the 21 entries for the Class 3 MansionBet Bet 10 Get 20 Handicap Chase. Photo: David Pratt / dwprattracingphotography

Traditionally, this has been a day for all the family, with the emphasis on the countryside and supporting the air ambulance service in Warwickshire and four other counties but, with racing continuing to be held behind closed doors, the crowds will be missing this year.

Ahead of the Festival, racecourse manager Andre Klein will be hosting an online preview event tomorrow evening, Friday, at 7pm in aid of local charity Molly Olly’s Wishes.

The panel will include Dan and Harry Skelton and Olly Murphy. The event costs £10, all of which goes to the charity. Bookings can be made at https://www.thejockeyclub.co.uk/warwick.

The feature race on Sunday is also the longest, with the Class 3 MansionBet Bet 10 Get 20 Handicap Chase to be run over three miles and five furlongs.

Last year’s winner Western Climate is amongst the 21 entries for Sunday’s renewal, although he is now a 12 year-old and may find some of his younger rivals a bit hot to handle.

The grey Volcano was found out by the 11lb rise in the weights for his course win last month when only third at Ludlow recently, but should run well again. Dan Skelton has Accordingtogino entered in this race as well as the following long-distance handicap hurdle and, with stable continuing in excellent form, is one for the shortlist in whichever race he goes for.

The meeting starts at 2.07pm with the MansionBet Faller Insurance Novices’ Hurdle (Novices’ Championship Hurdle Series Qualifier) over two miles which threw up a surprise result last year when 25-1 shot Hooligan triumphed for trainer Tom George.

Hooligan has won two of his three subsequent races, showing that, despite his starting price, the Warwick result was no fluke.

With 36 entries, it looks like being a good-sized field again, but Dan Skelton’s ex-German horse Calico would be the one to beat. Next up is the Class 3 MansionBet 2 Days Until Cheltmas EBF Mares’ Novices’ Chase (Qualifier for the EBF Mares’ Chase Series) over two-and-a-half miles and worth £13,700 in which Monday’s Southwell winner Danse Idol holds an entry.

Lust For Glory has an alternative engagement in a Listed race at Sandown Park on Saturday and Pink Legend, who jumped right on her last outing at Exeter, could benefit from a small field and a drop back in distance. There is another big entry for the closing bumper, won last year by 33-1 shot Bear Ghylls, who is unbeaten in four races and heading for the Festival.

Six previous winners feature amongst the 33 possibles, but carrying a penalty is no easy task in this type of race and Blairgowrie, sent off favourite on his debut here in December, could be the one to be on.

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