Our racing expert marks your card for Wednesday's jumps action at Warwick.
Andy Martin runs a farriers business in Oxon and is not known for training winners under Rules. However, MILITARIAN could be the horse that gets him off the cold list for the season when he runs in the 3m limited handicap chase for novices.
The eight-year-old has been lightly-raced since winning a point-to-point in May 2016 and was a 100/1 shot when finishing a remote fourth behind Willoughby Court in a maiden hurdle here in December of that year.
But he was always going to be a chaser and he showed that when making his belated debut in that sphere at Market Rasen last month. Sent off at 14/1, he belied those odds when pushing the odds-on favourite Captain Chaos all the way to the line, with just half a length between them at the finish and a big gap back to the third.
Given the winner was rated 39lb superior, that was a cracking effort and thankfully for his connections the handicapper hasn’t taken that form literally in handing him an opening mark of 118. With further improvement likely with that run under his belt and with his usual amateur rider taking 7lb off his back, I reckon he can take care of seven in-form rivals.
They include three last time-out winners and the best of these could be Oneida Tribe, who showed the benefit of first-time blinkers when beating a subsequent winner at Towcester last time. However, it remains to be seen whether the headgear works as well a second time.
Of the rest, Mr Love is weighted to turn the tables on his recent conqueror Shanty Town, but jumping fences seems to be a problem for him as he is full of mistakes.
I was tempted to put up Martin’s other runner on the card, Sunny Ledgend, who is contesting the 3m5f handicap chase, as he has dropped to a mark 4lb below his last winning one and ran creditably when fourth at Market Rasen last time, only tiring in the home straight after being given a positive ride.
However, he’s no spring chicken at the age of 13 and is up against a younger, improving sort in ALBERTO’S DREAM, who is four years his junior and is chasing a four-timer after wins at Lingfield, Leicester and Huntingdon last time. All three of those have come this month and since being switched to the in-form Tom Lacey, who has placed him well to rattle off the hat-trick.
His new mark has kicked in since the last of his victories and he’s now 13lb higher, but his amateur rider’s claim helps in that respect and I doubt a few more pounds in the saddle to be enough to stop him given he’s in the form of his life.
He’s a horse who warms up as the race develops and is always strongest at the finish, so I don’t see this extreme trip being a problem. Indeed, the front-running Sunny Ledgend could set the race up for him.
The Last Bridge could prove more troublesome as he has won his last two starts, both at Market Rasen, and the latest of those was arguably a career best. However, a 5lb rise makes life tougher for the 11-year-old.
All odds were correct at time of posting.