Mountain King can make most of rivals’ absence

Mountain King on his way to victory in the Ludlow For Functions Novices' Hurdle at Ludlow Racecourse.
Mountain King on his way to victory in the Ludlow For Functions Novices' Hurdle at Ludlow Racecourse.

With 166 entries, Friday’s seven-race card promises another good afternoon’s racing at Warwick, topped by the £30,000 Budbrooke Chase, writes David Hucker.

The Kerry Lee-trained pair of Kylemore Lough and Bishops Road head the weights for the big race, but they both won at Haydock Park last Saturday and, with Bishops Road heading for the Crabbie’s Grand National, it would be a surprise to see either turn out again.

In their absence, the two that catch the eye are Mountain King, now just 1lb above his last winning mark, and Until Winning, who has been given a chance by the handicapper off a rating of 124.

Dual winner Pemba, trained by Alan King, sets the standard in the Watch Racing UK On 3 Devices Juvenile Hurdle, although she will have to give weight away to her rivals.

She has an alternative entry at Exeter, so it will be a case of waiting to see which race she is declared in.

The Listers Audi Novices’ Handicap Chase can go to Modeligo, who was runner-up to Tea Caddy at Chepstow last time out and, although he has been raised 4lb for that effort, is on the same mark as when winning a handicap hurdle at Uttoxeter last summer.

The Walking The Courses Handicap Chase over three miles is the latest heat in the Challenger Series of races that culminate in a Finals Day at Haydock Park on Easter Saturday.

There have been few more impressive winners over the course this season than As De Fer, who scored by a wide margin in January but, although he followed up with another win at Wincanton, looks to be handicapped up to the hilt off a 19lb higher mark.

Hi Vic saw his rating go up from 108 to 122 after winning at Uttoxeter and he ran well to be beaten just two-and-a half lengths off his new mark at Bangor a month later.

The handicapper has not given him any respite for that defeat, however, so he will need to find a bit of improvement to score off the same rating here.

Incentivise could not peg back Paddy The Oscar over the course and distance on New Year’ Eve, but Kerry Lee’s veteran would have an each-way chance again, running off the same rating of 112.

The day’s action starts at 2.10pm with the EBF Stallions “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle (Qualifier) and gates open two hours before.

Looking further ahead, the course hosts the Horse & Hound Warwickshire Air Ambulance Raceday on Sunday March 13, featuring a Cheltenham Festival Preview lunch, for which tickets are on sale priced at £70.

n Violet Dancer, an impressive winner of the feature Kingmaker Novices’ Chase at the last meeting, is injured and will miss the Cheltenham Festival and the rest of the season.