13:15 Warwick – Edward Courage Cup Handicap Chase
A move to the up-and-coming Olly Murphy is often a positive for a horse which hasn’t fulfilled its potential elsewhere, but horses should be judged foremost before their trainers, and Murphy will do well to get much joy from the sour Bright New Dawn, who was a class above this at his peak, but has been crying out for retirement in recent times having lost his enthusiasm for both Gordon Elliott and Venetia Williams. Plenty will back him to end that sullen spell now starting out for a trainer with a reputation for reviving those who have lost their way, but I doubt Olly would have gone looking to train Bright New Dawn if he hadn’t been approached to take the role by the owners.
He’s more likely to dig his toes in – refused to race once and almost succeeded again on his final start for Venetia – than he is to win, and he looks a cheap place lay given that he usually finishes weakly when he dies consent to race.
Recommended: Lay Bright New Dawn for a place @ 3.5 or shorter (max liability 7.5pts)
13:50 Warwick – McCoy Contractors Construction News Awards Finalist Hampton Novices’ Chase
All four have a chance in this Listed contest, but I’m not particularly keen on OK Corral, who made a bad early mistake when winning on his chase debut, and while he ended up scoring on the bridle, the form is worth very little in the grand scheme of things, and he ought to be the outsider of the party on that basis. Of course, he will have learnt plenty from that Plumpton race and has potential as a chaser, but I’m sure that can be said for the rivals who have achieved more than him, and at under 3.0, he looks a poor bet.
Recommended: Lay OK Corral @ 3.0 or shorter (max liability 6pts)
15:00 Warwick McCoy Contractors Civil Engineering Classic Handicap Chase
It often pays to be handy on the chase track at Warwick, and last year’s winner Milansbar was never headed after stealing a march going to the first fence. It’s unlikely that he will get away with such tactics this time, however, as the race is full of pace, and there is a real chance of the leaders going too hard. One who will definitely be eyeballs out is Bet365 Gold Cup winner Step Back, and he looked to need the run on his return at Chepstow.
That could be taken as a positive, but that return came back in October, and the fact he wasn’t even among the acceptors for the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury when that looked his obvious target, and then didn’t even get an entry in the Welsh National sounds major alarm bells with me, accepting the fact that the eccentric Bradstocks have a chequered history with big-race entries. It’s not exactly been a good year for Mark and Sara, and although the number of horses in training is quite small, a lack of winners since May is a definite cause for concern, and most of the runners have been well beaten since.
If Step Back has had a setback, the chances of him being spot on for this must be fairly slim, and even if he is in good shape, a contested lead here could spell disaster, and the percentage call must be to oppose him.
Recommended: Lay Step Back for a place @ 3.5 or shorter (max liability 7.5pts)
On this week’s Horse Racing Podcast, Rory joined Tom Stanley and Brendan Powell to preview the best of the weekends’s racing action.