Plenty of exciting runners at Warwick on Wednesday but many eyes will undoubtedly be on the featured clash between Minella Rocco and Bob And Co. Steven Dowler has previewed the entire card and reckons that Bob And Co could cause Minella substantial problems. Agree with his selections? Then join his Syndicate here.
13.00 – Juvenile Hurdle
Alan King has an exciting bunch of juveniles and his grade two runner-up Lord Lamington comfortably beat Zoffee earlier in the season. His smart BLACKO really impressed when beating the same rival on UK debut as the runner-up already had match fitness.
Blacko couldn’t have won more impressively that day as he had 12 lengths to spare over The Pink’n who is 3lbs better off today but Blacko should easily confirm the form. I expect this promising 4yo to go close to winning this before having his sights set at Cheltenham in March as there is every reason to believe he is a graded performer on a line through his form with stablemate Lord Lamington.
Dan Skelton might not be in the best of form at present but it’s hard to get away from SCORCHED EARTH, who won nicely on his hurdles debut before finishing a close-up fourth behind Mister Coffey, who could be above average. The runner-up Shakem’uparry since chased home the classy Shishkin. That is very strong form and, with more to come, SCORCHED EARTH has a great chance here.
Selections: BLACKO, SCORCHED EARTH
13.35 – Novices’ Hurdle
Henry Daly runs three in this contest, starting with IT’S PROBABLY ME who was a good bumper horse.
She wasn’t beaten by much in a listed event at Cheltenham on soft to heavy ground and was highly tried on her hurdles debut in a listed event at Haydock but unfortunately unseated her rider at the first. She then contested another listed event at Taunton second time out and ran really well to finish third behind Marie’s Rock and Midnight’s Gift, who are above average.
IT’S PROBABLY ME has by far the strongest form in this race and, although the stable’s form is a slight concern, she is sure to appreciate the step up in trip and takes a huge drop down in class. She ought to have a strong chance of collecting this prize to give the yard a boost.
I do find it interesting that Richard Johnson has opted to ride MORE OVERDRAUGHT, who improved from her encouraging debut fourth to finish second behind a promising winner last time out. She makes her hurdles debut here on ground to suit and looks set to make a bold bid under the champion.
Nicky Henderson’s only runner on the card is TEMPLE HIGH, who shaped well on her sole bumper here last time out against fair opposition and steps up in trip for her hurdles debut. She is bred to be useful in this sphere and is expected to go well for James Bowen.
Selections: IT’S PROBABLY ME, MORE OVERDRAUGHT, TEMPLE HIGH
14.10 – Handicap Chase
A highly competitive handicap chase and Kerry Lee has plenty of success at this track and she runs soft/heavy ground specialist GOOD TO KNOW, who has done most of his racing at a higher level (13th in 2017 grand national) and is now 22lbs below his last winning mark.
He was second in the classic chase grade 3 at this track back in 2017 off 136 and is now on a mark 115 in a class 4 event. Jamie Moore knows him very well and the yard are in good form so, although he needs to improve on his two runs this season, GOOD TO KNOW is the class act in the race and will be ready for this.
BROADCLYST has to give weight away to this field but he’s a lightly raced 8-year-old who has finished second on both starts over fences in class 3 company and almost got off the mark last time when beaten a neck by a useful Paul Nicholls horse on heavy ground. He’s chased home to horses who are rated in the 130’s which makes BROADCLYST’S mark of 121 looks lenient and he remains unexposed with cheekpieces fitted which will bring about further improvement.
FLEMINPORT is a quirky character and has yet to win over fences but he has plenty of ability and he gets 10lbs pull with the top-weight here and saves his best form for this sort of ground. He’s on a much reduced mark and drops down into class 4 company for the first time over fences, which could see him involved at the finish for Jonjo O’Neill and Richie McLernon.
Selections: GOOD TO KNOW, BROADCLYST, FLEMINPORT
14.40 – Handicap Hurdle
Another competitive handicap on today’s card and I like top weight GOOD AND HARDY, who has developed into a useful stayer and handles all types of ground. He was a distant second behind Dr Des last time out but I don’t think he ran his race at all and before that won twice in a row including under a monster 12-6 weight on deep ground. I think GOOD AND HARDY has more improvement to come and although he’s up a harsh 9LB for his latest defeat, I think he can overcome it with trip, track and conditions to suit.
My attentions also turn to bottom weight FLOWING CADENZA, who absolutely relished heavy ground at Ascot last time. He comfortably beat a subsequent winner and he’s only gone up 4LB, which I think is very lenient for that easy success. Also, FLOWING CADENZA’S win was over 2m7f on heavy ground the same as Golden Sovereign’s and Good And Hardy victory and FLOWING CADENZA recorded a five second quicker time then the pair of those two horses victories and he gets nearly two stone from the two mentioned in this race, so this improving six-year-old has every chance of doubling his tally over timber.
Selections: GOOD AND HARDY, FLOWING CADENZA
15.15 – Hunters’ Chase
Jonjo O’Neill has been very keen to try something new with MINELLA ROCCO, who has been majorly disappointing since finishing second in the 2017 Cheltenham Gold Cup and goes head to head with the highly rated BOB AND CO here.
He now turns his attentions to the Hunters Chase scenario in order to get him back to winning ways despite his downward spiral of form. It’s really hard to be confident on MINELLA ROCCO, who has been pulled up on four of his last five starts and he was never involved when only managing eighth at Ascot last time. There is no doubt Jonjo still believes he can win again so if this former top-class horse fails to fire at this level, I am pretty sure retirement options will be mentioned so he must go close to winning this.
It won’t be easy for Minella Rocco though, who takes on the Paul Nicholls exciting 9yo BOB AND CO, who showed good form in France on this sort of ground and is top rated here at 150. Bob And Co is already second favourite behind Hazel Hill for the foxhunters at the Cheltenham festival, which tells me he is a serious horse for this discipline and could well become favourite for the main event if he wins here on UK/stable debut. The other two runners look out of their depth so I’m tipping Bob And Co to fight it out with Minella Rocco.
Selections: MINELLA ROCCO, BOB AND CO
15.45 – Handicap Hurdle
FINULA didn’t run up to his best when pulled up earlier this month but ran well the time before to finish third on stable debut under Charlie Deutsch and its interesting connections drop him back to 2 miles for the first time since 2016 which resulted in success. He handles soft ground and definitely has more to come over this trip so he’s taken to run well here.
THE RAVEN’S RETURN was a decent horse in bumpers and although he was no match for the impressive Lightly Squeeze last time out, I thought that was a good run in defeat as the winner looks above average and there is nothing the calibre of that winner in this contest. THE RAVEN’S RETURN remains on the same mark for today’s race and is a big player without a shadow of doubt for a yard and jockey I rate highly.
JAISALMER has run well enough on both starts this season over longer trips to suggest his turn is near back over 2 miles. He handles heavy ground very well and is below his last winning mark by some margin with Jack Tudor taking off another good chunk of his weight. JAISALMER is a very capable horse on his day and has good form on his CV under various conditions, so if he does appreciate the drop back to the minimum distance then he’s surely got a massive chance of claiming this prize being on an attractive mark.
Selections: FINULA, THE RAVEN’S RETURN, JAISALMER
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