Today’s rescheduled Warwick card was subject to an inspection on Sunday afternoon, but temperatures were set to rise during the day and waterlogging rather than a frozen track is the concern.
In the 2m handicap hurdle Amarillo Sky could be a class apart from today’s rivals and he will surely be rated much higher than his current mark of 117 at some stage in the future. He can be a bit keen in his races, however, and this winner between the flags will need to settle better. The improved form of the Colin Tizzard stable is a plus but marginal preference is for the juvenile Pyramid Place (2.20) who receives 15lbs from the market leader.
The each way recommendation needs to get his handicap mark up if he is to stand any chance of getting into the Fred Winter at the Cheltenham Festival next month. The Milton Harris trained 4-y-old has won two of his last three starts including a Taunton handicap from an 8lbs lower mark last time. The selection was a moderate maiden on the level for John Gosden but has taken well to the winter game and I would be disappointed if he were not competitive from the foot of the weights.
Only four go to post for the feature Grade 2 Kingmaker Chase but it promises to be a cracker with Allmankind likely to set a scorching gallop for Sky Pirate (2.50) and preference is for the Jonjo O’Neill trained chaser who has been a revelation since reverting to the minimum trip. Allmankind carries a 3lbs penalty for landing the Henry VIII at Sandown back in December and his fencing was exemplary when winning over C&D on his chase debut.
I just favour Sky Pirate, however, as he will have the race run to suit and was always in control of a competitive handicap over C&D last time. The winner will go into the Arkle as third favourite behind Shishkin and Energumene in what promises to be one of the races of the Festival. The selection is 5/2 with BetVictor.
The 2m 4f handicap chase is a cracker and I thought Another Crick ran a terrific race in the circumstances when runner up at Uttoxeter over hurdles on his return from a 20-month absence from the track. He would have been the ew recommendation on better ground, but I feel he is one to keep on side if it ever stops raining.
Smarty Wild did lots of things wrong but still won at Kempton last time but he has never scored on a left-handed track and the ew vote – 6s with Boylespots 4 places – goes to Oldgrangewood (3.55) who remains 4lbs higher than his last winning mark but has run well on both starts so far this season and represents the inform yard of Dan Skelton.
Skelton saddles Irish import Whispering Gypsy (1.10) in the opener at Lingfield and the selection is a half-sister to a Bumper winner and showed enough in three starts in her native Ireland to suggest she would be up to winning a small race. Connections look to have found an excellent opportunity. There was 7/4 available on Sunday but that, unsurprisingly, didnt last long and the mare is 4/6 with 10bet at the time of posting.
At Thurles Whatsnottoknow (2.00) boasts a course record of 2122 and the form of his second here on his chase debut was given a boost when the winner – Franco De Port – was second to Energumene in the Irish Arkle earlier in the month. I think the Evens with BetVictor is fair,
Exit Poll will appreciate a return to a right-handed track having shaped with promise when second to the talented Andy Dufresne at Wexford earlier in the season although he may need spring ground to break his duck over fences.
There are a couple of terrific handicaps at Wolverhampton this evening and I hope Sky Defender ensures a decent gallop having set the race up for Assimilation at Lingfield last time. The latter is only 3lbs higher this evening, has a good course record and is in the form of his life.
The ew vote, however, goes to Al Muffrih (6.30) who was never placed to challenge in a slowly run race over a furlong shorter trip last time. I like the booking of Richard Kingscote and I am convinced there is more to come from this former William Haggas inmate over this trip and further. There was 10/1 available on Sunday but he was backed into 13/2 with 10bet at the time of posting.
Whatever happens this evening he is one to keep on side in the short term.