Our racing guru has set his sights on unravelling this afternoon's card at Warwick.
Trainer Alan King has his string ticking over nicely and he has several chances at Warwick this afternoon, where he can boast a healthy 21% strike rate.
His best chance appears to be MIA’S STORM, who is forecast to go off favourite for the mares’ “national hunt” novices’ hurdle (due off 3.50pm). And rightly so as she is a well bred six-year-old with eye-catching bumper form, having chased home the highly regarded La Bague Au Roi in such a race at Huntingdon in December. The winner is “as good as you get” according to her trainer Warren Greatrex and has the Aintree Listed Bumper as her target, so it was no disgrace to go down by just five lengths. The selection is making her hurdles debut here but she is not without jumping experience having won her sole start in an Irish point-to-point. She gets 9lb from her main market rival Surtee Du Berlais and that can prove decisive.
Earlier on the card, King’s WILLLOUGHBY HEDGE looks to have a golden chance in the 3m1f handicap chase (due off 2.20pm). The nine-year-old was returning from a long absence at Newbury earlier this month and, having made steady headway from the rear, was disputing second when falling at the 13th. It’s hard to say he would have won but he’s clearly back to the sort of form that saw him win twice over hurdles in 2013, and he’s potentially very well treated in this sphere off a mark of 120. King reports him to have ‘schooled fine’ since and he can start making up for lost time this afternoon.
King does particularly well with his juvenile runners and his MYSTERY CODE is not without a chance in the opening 2m juvenile hurdle (1.50pm), getting 7lb from likely odds-on favourite Fixe Le Cap. That horse was getting off the mark on his fourth attempt on his British debut at Newbury last month and is prominent in the betting for the Triumph Hurdle as a result. However, the race was a tactical affair and he may be vulnerable under his penalty. The selection is more experienced and, having won on her debut at Fakenham in October, was far from disgraced when third in a Listed contest at Aintree on her next start. That was 54 days but she has reportedly done well for her break and strengthened up, so she could well make the necessary improvement to land this.
The most competitive race on the card is the 3m2f handicap hurdle and the 13 runners are sure to finish well strung out on the testing ground. Those conditions are ideal for the Geoffrey Maundrell-trained TAMBURA, whose defeat of Cannon Fodder at Plumpton in November looks solid form in light of the runner-up’s subsequent efforts, which include a third behind the exciting Vroum Vroum Mag in a Grade 2 at Ascot on Saturday. The selection has run well twice since and her rider Zac Baker is excellent value for his 7lb claim, so she must have an excellent chance of at least finishing in the frame here.