The fourth race of the day at Warwick is a class 3 handicap hurdle, see our betting tips and the full race preview below.
IN SUMMARY: A tricky looking race with lots of these having something to prove, and this can go to GODSMEJUDGE. Although his last win was all the way back in the Scottish Grand National of 2013, his last two chasing performances prove he still retains a significant amount of ability and can race off a 10lb lower today back over timber. Although nearly four years ago, he won off a 10lb higher mark previously and if taking to hurdling again he’s likely very well handicapped. His main danger looks to be Desert Retreat, who has the services of Richard Johnson but will need to race with more enthusiasm today.
1 MOIDORE – Twice a winner in early 2016 but has been poor the last twice, reappearing this season with a laboured fourth at Uttoxeter (2m 7f, Soft). Still 10lb above his last winning mark but this trip is likely to suit, with the softer ground conditions another plus. Has to be considered a for placings if the step up in trip does prompt further progress but others do have more pressing claims.
2 BALLYWILLIAM – Winner at Uttoxeter on penultimate start (2m 7f, Heavy) but ran no sort of race on chasing debut when pulled up at Newbury in December (2m 7f, Good to Soft). Switches to blinkers and back to hurdling which should help but he is still 9lb above his last winning mark. Needs to show something more if he wants to feature today but the David Pipe yard are starting to hit form, as is Tom Scudamore, so it would be foolish to rule him out entirely.
3 TOP BILLING – Had been in no sort of form earlier this season but ran a better race when second at Ayr in December, rallying well towards the end (2m 5f, Heavy). Going up in trip should suit and likely to run well again if the headgear continues to have a good effect, but looks weighted to his best at present and probably best watched.
4 DELGANY DEMON – Became increasingly patchy last season and ran no sort of race when seventh at Lingfield over fences in December (2m 7f, Good to Soft). Returns to hurdling on a mark that is 2lb lower than his last winning one but hard to be confident he’ll put his best foot forward despite conditions being to suit. Each Way claims but hard to be sure he’ll run a representative race.
5 SIXTY SOMETHING – Had a near two year lay off before two runs this season, both of which over fences and both ending in poor displays. Now an eleven year old whose likely to have seen his better days and makes his first hurdling run since November 2013 which has to be of concern. 3lb below his last winning mark in conditions that will suit but impossible to recommend with how he is performing at present.
6 MONT CHOISY – Ran some creditable efforts in defeat in October, finishing fifth at Worcester (2m 7f, Good) when mistakes ultimately cost him dearly on his penultimate start. Ran no sort of race when finishing a well beaten 8th at Chepstow on his latest start, never travelling from an early stage which has to be of concern. Down 4lb however which should help and he’s relatively lightly raced for the inform Twiston-Davies combination, so is certainly worth a second look and could find himself in the Each Way money.
7 AWAYWITHTHEGREYS – No real form of note since February 2016 until he plugged on past beaten horses to finish fourth at Chepstow in December (2m 7f, Soft). He is now 5lb below his last winning mark and Peter Bowen retakes the ride, who is 2-2 on the ten year old. Likely to run his race and put up an admirable showing, but hard to see him having any more than place chances with others having far more scope for progress.
8 CATCHING ON – Only two runs since December 2015 and returned this season with a decent enough fifth at Bangor in November, threatening to get competitive before weakening out of it. (2m 7f, Soft). Nowhere near as good over fences at Exeter the time after which is of concern but on his best chasing form he’d have to be given a good chance of taking a race like this, rated 13lb higher over the larger obstacles back in 2015. Interesting candidate for sure and has to have atleast place claims.
9 SPELLBOUND – Pulled up after a long absence on handicap debut when returning at Fontwell on Boxing Day (2m 5f, Good to Soft). Unraced beyond 2m 5f though her pedigree suggests she will stay and it is relatively early days for her after only five starts over hurdles. Conditions are fine and he Alan King yard have a record of 7-19 in the past two weeks, so has to be respected and likely to be in the shakeup.
10 DESERT RETREAT – Finished a staying on third here over C&D on handicap debut on New Year’s Eve in similar conditions, which was a pleasing performance. Made Thomas Cheesman work very hard however and was off the bridle for a long way, so Richard Johnson taking the ride is a plus, as is the fact that connections reach for headgear. Likely to be capable of much better and so to be respected.
11 COURT FRONTIER – Very patchy record overall but won off this mark over fences when drawing well clear at Chepstow on Friday (2m 7f, Soft). He has however been nowhere near as good over hurdles at his best and isn’t the type to follow up a good performance with another one. If matching that latest win over fences back over hurdles with conditions to suit he’d have definite place claims, but its impossible to be confident that’ll be the case.
12 GODSMEJUDGE – Won the Scottish Grand National back in 2013 but is now an eleven year old with an inconsistent record in the main since. He has however finished third on his last three starts, and the last twice over fences proves that he does retain a significant amount of ability. Switches back to hurdling off a 10lb lower mark than his chasing one and has won off a 10lb higher mark in this discipline back in March 2012. Has to have a huge chance if transferring that retained ability from chasing to hurdling off a low mark and has to be respected for David Dennis and Aiden Coleman.