Our racing expert marks your card for Thursday's action.
Trainer Charlie Longsdon tends to do well at this time of year and this season is proving no exception.
Yesterday’s Bangor scorer Germany Calling was his 16th winner of this campaign from 62 runners (26%) and his fourth in the last fortnight. He may well add to that tally at Warwick this afternoon as he saddles several fancied runners and READY TOKEN looks his best chance of a winner in the 3m handicap chase.
The eight-year-old won well over course when last seen out in May, which was a just reward for a narrow defeat at Huntingdon previously, and he was also on the scoresheet at this time last year following a break. A good ground horse, he’s likely to be fully wound up for his return to action and given he has looked most comfortable when dictating matters, I’d expect Richard Johnson to try and make all.
His main market rival Benzel is respected after he made it two wins from his last three starts at Southwell last time. However, he was entitled to beat just three rivals as 11/10 favourite and he has a further 8lb rise to overcome.
Richard Johnson also gets the leg up on another Longsdon inmate, VIVAS, in the closing 2m5f handicap hurdle and the five-year-old is another who could make light of an absence with the stable going well.
He could only finish a well beaten fourth when last seen out at Kempton in May, but that run was too bad to be true (physical problem, perhaps?) and he’s better judged on a close second in a competitive handicap here (2m3f, good) on his previous start. On that effort, he can definitely win a handicap off his current mark and before the ground turns against him.
Today’s contest is no gimme, mind, and recent Uttoxeter second Quebec looks a big danger as he’s due to go up 6lb in the future, though this looks a more competitive contest.
It’s another Longsdon-trained runner that catches the eye in the 2m handicap hurdle, with CRICKEL WOOD attempting to repeat his course and distance success of last November. The six-year-old sustained a nasty cut when falling on his next start at Ascot and that kept him off until March, when returned to this track to finish second in a decent novice under a penalty.
Only six, he should have plenty more improvement in him and is a candidate for chasing later in the season. But he’s on a workable mark over hurdles and one his trainer will be keen to exploit, so why not today at a track he has shown a liking for and with the stable firing on all cylinders.