Thursday Racing Preview: A Star May Be Made At Warwick6 min read
There is rain forecast for Cheltenham on Saturday which muddies the water somewhat with regard to the feature event the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup. The big mover over the last 24 hours has been Cepage of Venetia Williams who is now 12/1 with BetVictor from 20/1.
Any significant rain would certainly assist the 6-year-old who will be making a belated seasonal reappearance. The scissors have also been out to favourite Rather Be who has been trimmed from 3s to 11/4 with BetVictor although a deterioration of the going would be a negative for the market leader.
The listed Lady Godiva Mares’ Novices’ Chase is the feature race at Warwick this afternoon and I am pleased to see Jester Jet (1.25) revert to today’s two-and-a-half-mile trip having been done for speed by the smart Maria’s Benefit at Bangor last month over a quarter of a mile shorter.
The fences come thick at fast at Warwick over this trip and I felt Tom Lacey’s 8-y-old jumped well in north Wales and on her chase debut at Ffos Las behind the top-class novice Bags Groove. The selection stays 3m and I hope the ground has enough cut to make it a decent test. Irish raider Mrs Lovett is on a hat-trick for Gordon Elliot, but this represents a step up in grade although she will appreciate underfoot conditions and is clearly going the right way.
Leading owner JP McManus bought Birchdale (12.50) privately after the four-year-old won his sole point in his native Ireland back in March. The gelding is reported to be working well at Nicky Henderson’s Lambourn yard and Barry Geraghty crosses the Irish Sea for the ride.
I felt it was a stronger race than today’s when Barbrook Star (1.55) finished third – a clear personal best – on his chase debut albeit from a 4lbs lower mark. Philip Hobbs’ six-year-old jumped well on that occasion and this track will play to his strengths if he fences with the same aplomb as he did at Chepstow.
Hard Station (3.05) landed a gamble when making all from an 8lbs lower mark at Market Rasen over 3m three weeks ago and is taken to follow up with Richard Johnson taking over in the saddle. The drop back in trip is not a concern and his fencing was fast and assured last time. If over the exertions of last month’s hard race, he will be hard to peg back.
There is a terrific Novices’ Chase at Newcastle and I am going to give Ravenhill Road (1.45) the nod to reverse Wetherby form on his chase debut when he was mugged close home by Hawk Hill who reopposes today on 5lbs worse terms.
At Taunton today’s trip just shy of 3m should suit Agamemmon (2.10) who is fitted with cheek-pieces for the first time having finished tamely over an additional quarter mile at Ludlow last time. The selection has been dropped 3lbs for that effort and is only 1lb lower than when scoring at Market Rasen over a similar trip back in the spring. Christmas In April makes his chase debut for the Tizzard yard and a market move would be worth noting with underfoot conditions ideal.
Capeland has a leading chance of landing a hat-trick and he is only 6lbs higher than when beating subsequent winner Buster Thomas at Wincanton last month. The Paul Nicholls’ charge is only six and open to further improvement. The vote, however, goes to Valseur Du Granval (3.15) who is reunited with Paddy Brennan who has been in the saddle for two of his four career wins. This intermediate 2m 2f trip is fine and a flat right-handed track is ideal.
Princess Midnight (3.50) was weak in the market but stayed on steadily into fourth on her handicap debut at Exeter last time. She is likely to be a different proposition this afternoon for Colin Tizzard.
Valseur Du Granval