A sensational 11/1 winner for Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) last week. Can he follow up this weekend at Warwick?
13:50 Warwick | Channel 4
A 3 mile Listed Novice Chase and it sees Willie Mullins send one of his army of young horses over. His entrant here is Black Hercules and as seems to be the way with his horses he’s odds on to win this, but will he?
Black Hercules comes here with a very impressive record to his name of five wins from eight starts and has some smart form to his name so far.
His win against Alpha Des Obeaux last season at Cork reads particularly well now and he’s probably the horse to beat here. However he is by no means bomb proof with two flops to his name, in the Punchestown Bumper and the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham last season.
He looked good on his chase debut last time out at Navan but the second favourite underperformed there and he doesn’t bring the best chase form to the table. He has the scope to go right to the top of the chase game but I’m taking him on here.
Silsol from the Paul Nichols yard is a really tough sort and you can rely on him to give his running. As seems to be the case every time he runs he has to concede weight to his rivals here and is likely to struggle again, but how close he finishes to the winner should be an indication of the strength of the form here.
I’m going to take a chance on Emily Gray here. This eight year old has taken her form to a new level since switching to fences and comes here looking a really progressive mare.
Since finishing well beaten in the Mares Hurdle at Cheltenham last season she has won two chases and finished second to Ma Filluele where she was conceding a lot of weight.
She is yet to run over 3 miles but looks like she will stay and in a small field her tactical pace may be an asset. Though she has to improve slightly to beat Black Hercules I feel she is worth taking a chance on at 6/1.
15:00 Warwick | Channel 4
A 2 mile 5 furlong Grade 2 Novice Hurdle and this time Willie Mullins has sent across two and looks to hold a massive chance here. This is a really good race for the track and should offer us some Cheltenham pointers, but who wins it?
Born Survivor won on debut for Dan Skelton and looked a really smart sort winning his maiden here over course and distance. He wasn’t fully extended that day but this represents a significant step up in class and whether he should be favourite for this I’m not sure. I don’t like him at the prices.
Willie Mullins sends two over here and in my opinion he will train the winner. Thomas Hobson and Open Eagle were good sorts on the flat and seem to appreciate cut in the ground but neither have hit the heights expected of them yet.
Open Eagle turned the November Handicap into a precession when last seen on the Flat and was amongst the favourites for the big novice races at the Cheltenham Festival before he’d ran over hurdles.
However his switch to hurdles wasn’t a fluent one and after an odds on flop on debut he was put away for the season. He returned nine months later with a win at Fairyhouse and followed that up by following Altior home at Kempton. That’s top form and the step up in trip here should suit him, but he doesn’t seem a natural over jumps and I think he may need time.
Mullins other runner is Thomas Hobson and he’s my idea of the winner. A good Flat horse for John Gosden he’s made a solid if unspectacular start to life as a hurdler.
After a fall on his debut when in contention he got off the mark in a Galway maiden before going down narrowly in a Grade 3 at Navan. He was then stepped up in trip where he beat Jetstream Jack and that form reads well.
He looks like he will need a trip over hurdles and I expect him to continue his upward curve over jumps. His flat experience should count for a lot here and I expect him to be a little bit too streetwise for Born Survivor. I expect him to win.
13:50 Warwick – Emily Gray to win (6/1 BetVictor)
15:00 Warwick – Thomas Hobson to win (5/1 BetVictor)
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