New general manager Andre Klein takes charge of his first meeting at Warwick on Wednesday, when the highlight of the afternoon is the Class 3 Highflyer/Million In Mind 4 & 5yo Novices’ Chase over two miles, writes David Hucker.
Although born in Warwickshire, Klein has been based in New Zealand where he has been chief executive at Otago Racing Club in Dunedin since August 2012. He has also been New Zealand’s Jump racing manager, having overseen a complete restructure of the sport throughout the country.
The valuable Highflyer/Million In Mind Chase has seen small fields over the years when restricted to four-year-olds, often featuring horses bred in France where they jump fences earlier in the careers and where sponsors Highflyer Bloodstock source many of their of their purchases.
Last year, it was opened up to five-year-olds to attract more runners but, just as in 2013, only four took part, with odds-on favourite Ptit Zig winning for champion trainer Paul Nicholls. Ptit Zig went on to win two more races last term and opened up the current campaign with a smooth success at Down Royal, so the race had quality, if not quantity.
Warwickshire trainer Dan Skelton took the feature race at the last meeting with Willow’s Saviour. Formerly assistant to Nicholls, he has amassed £300,000 in prize money so far and any runners from his stable next week will be worth a look.
The Warwick Racecourse Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle kicks off the meeting at 12.40pm and the finale is at 3.50pm with the David Nicholson Memorial Fillies’ “Junior” Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race.
Last year’ s winner was Lady Persephone, trained by Nicholson’s protégé Alan King, and the stable is likely to have another horse primed for the day.
Often, the crowd has thinned by the time the last race is run but those watching 12 months ago will have noted Lamanver Alchemy staying on well to take second behind Lady Persephone and she duly opened her account when returning to the course two weeks ago.