It is another case of fingers crossed for Warwick officials as the course looks to beat the elements and stage a competitive-looking card on Friday, writes David Hucker.
Clerk of the course Sulekha Varma described the ground as heavy, waterlogged in places, going into the weekend, but a couple of drying days have improved prospects and much will depend on the amount of rain that falls during the week.
In all, there are a bumper 190 entries for the seven races which get underway at 2.10pm with the British Stallion Studs Supporting British Racing EBF “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle (Qualifier).
The inaugural running of the day’s richest race, the £30,000 Budbrooke Handicap Chase over two-and-a-half miles course, has attracted a good quality field of 21 hopefuls.
Little Josh had subsequent Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Long Run back in third when taking the 2010 Paddy Power Gold Cup.
The Philip Hobbs-trained Chance Du Roy ran off a rating of 150 last time and course winner Pepite Rose comes from the in-form Venetia Williams stable.
There are 22 entries for the day’s longest race, the Ken Muir Memorial Handicap Chase over three miles and five furlongs, including Trigger The Light, who has chalked up three wins over the course.
Alan King’s veteran finished ninth to Well Refreshed at Haydock Park last Saturday and would need to have got over his exertions before being asked to turn out again.
Rhum, trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, beat Flying Award at Wincanton last time out, but has seen his rating rise from 117 to 120.
The runner-up had to give a pound in weight that day (excluding his amateur rider’s allowance) but now receives a pound instead so, in theory, the two horses should run a dead-heat.
The 2009 Grand National winner Mon Mome would prove an attraction but, at the age of 13, seems a light of his former self, although he was not disgraced when third behind Master Overseer last time out.
Prior to racing, the course stages one of a number of Cheltenham Festival previews going on up and down the country.
Commentator and Racing UK presenter Stewart Machin will be joined on the panel by trainer Tom Symonds, Roger Hart, PR director to a number of leading stables, and Paul Jones, author of the Cheltenham Festival Betting Guide 2013.
General manager Huw Williams said: “Whether you’re a seasoned racegoer or newcomer to the exciting sport of horse racing, the chance to join and chat with the expert panel is a very enticing one.
“For the novice, it provides the opportunity to learn more about the horse racing world, while for those with more knowledge, it could offer a valuable insight into the chances of the fancied horses in the spring festivals.”
The cost, including brunch and the afternoon’s racing, is £40 (£25 annual members) and everyone will receive a copy of Jones’ book.
For more information visit the course website, www.warwickracecourse.co.uk