Race Time: 2.25pm Meeting: Warwick Day: Saturday 16th January 2015 Full Race Name: Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle (Series Qualifier) Class Two
It seems safe to say that this will be a muddy war of attrition with three and a quarter miles on heavy going an awfully long way for some of these and we fully expect a minimal amount of finishers by the end of the contest. If we start by looking for horses in good form then Nicky Richards has the leading contender with Isaacstown Lad (10/3), a nine year old son of Milan who has won four of his last five races, and fell in the other when still going well. He did start his winning run off a rating of 93 and is off of 135 today, an incredible forty-two pounds of improvement, but surely his winning run has to come to an end soon and the extra nine ponds for his last win could well be the nail in his coffin with the weight today.
Naturally, he is not the only in form option declared and Nigel Twiston-Davies is considering sending Arctic Gold (4/1) here and he has also won his last three races, this time at Stratford, Bangor, and Ludlow, stepping up through the distances from two miles to two and a half and finally three. He made all last time and wasn’t stopping at the end so the extra two furlongs here is unlikely to be much of an issue, but he has gone up eight pounds and whether he can slip this better looking field is a different question.
With just the one course and distance winner in the field we cannot ignore the chances of Howaboutnever (7/1) who showed plenty of guts and stamina to get back up here after being passed last time out. He likes the track, the trip, and the going, and is presumably a late maturing sort with just the ten career starts for two wins, a second and three thirds, so one for the each way players by the look of things. He has been put up six pounds for his last run and win, but may just be improving despite his age, and with stamina likely to be at a premium with the ground cutting up by race time, he looks one to keep on your side to us.
Assessing the form of Volcanic’s (12/1) win at Bangor last time out isn’t as easy as normal as some feel he slipped the field to score with plenty in hand, but with the other jockeys let him get so far clear today – we rather doubt it? The five pound weigh rise suggests the handicappers are also treating the form with some suspicion, which makes is wary too, though if he can get away early he will make them all know he has been in a race if they don’t keep closer tabs on him way before the home turn.
Last but not least, our tip is the lightly weighted Pobbles Bay (7/1) to pull off a big win for the Evan Williams yard? A son of legendary sire Oscar, this will be his first attempt at three miles or more, and he only has the one win after four starts over hurdles over two and a half miles at Ffos Las in December when getting up in the final strides, suggesting the further he goes the better he will get. His achievements to date seem to only be a percentage of his capabilities hence his light weight, and as we have heard his trainer thinks he has untapped potential, and he gets in here off a light weight he could well give them all something to think about if he gets the run of the race and stays the marathon trip, picking up the tiring front runners late in the race with any luck.