Little or no rain forecast for the weekend and Warwick’s seven-race card this afternoon will be run on good ground.
Only five go to post for the valuable novice chase over two miles but all hold realistic claims. Three are making their chase debuts and winning pointer Do Your Job ended last season with a second in the Aintree G1 Novice hurdle. He may need slower ground to be seen at his very best, however, and marginal preference is for King Roland (2.00) who has his first start for Dan Skelton this afternoon.
The selection – 7/2 with 10Bet – bolted on the way to the start on his chase debut at Uttoxeter and was too free in the race. His jumping was sound, and, in the circumstances, he did very well to be beaten just 6L. His new yard has tweaked his wind for his seasonal debut, and he is again fitted with a tongue tie and hood. For Pleasure will ensure a decent test at the trip which should help the selection to settle, and it looks a race to savour.
Skelton also saddles Ashoka in the handicap hurdle and this veteran has dropped to an attractive looking mark. He finished last of none at Carlisle on his reappearance but is entitled to come on for the run. A check of the market is advised.
First Quest has won two of his last three starts but looks short enough in the betting and is 7lbs higher than when making all at Wincanton last time. Mercutio Rock (2.30) has never raced on ground better than soft but has hinted at ability in novice hurdles and begins life in handicaps from what looks a workable mark.
The Jonjo O’Neill stable remain in excellent form and Richie McLernon – who was in the plate when the selection finished second at Chepstow – returns to the plate. The selection is 11/4 with MansionBet on Friday morning.
Republican reverts to fences for his seasonal debut and looks feasibly weighted although the Oliver Sherwood yard remain largely out of sorts. My two against the field, however, are the chasing newcomer Bali Body (3.05) and Head On with marginal preference for the former in the absence of the latter.
The selection has the scope to jump a fence and looked a thorough stayer when scoring over an extended 3m 1f over timber. Runner up in his sole point this will be the fastest ground the 6-y-old has encountered. Head On will be much more at home going left-handed today than was the case at Perth last time when he jumped out to his left. Ian Williams has given him six weeks to get over that effort but he has his optimum conditions today.
At Hexham I hope to see Fete Champetre (2.10) make a winning chase debut having scored at Kelso from a 2lbs lower mark on his reappearance. The selection has the scope for the larger obstacles and the stable of Rose Dobbin remain in good order.