Seven runners have been declared for the Class 3 handicap hurdle over 2m on Thurday’s Warwick card. Read our horse-by-horse race preview for our experts’ betting tips.
IN SUMMARY: BARMAN pulled too hard in the early stages of his latest race at Stratford and, consequently, it was no surprise to see him fade out of contention in the home straight. However, he looked very progressive when completing a hat-trick beforehand and, if he’s more settled this time, there’s a very good chance he can improve again. He gets the vote ahead of Crickel Wood, who predictably found a very useful rival too strong in a novice event here in March but won a C&D handicap last November and, given his trainer’s usual prowess at this time of year, is likely to be fully primed. Nice Thoughts has a point to prove after finishing only fourth when odds-on for a Worcester maiden last month but his previous run was very encouraging and he also enters calculations.
1 Barman – Made low-key start to hurdling career but struck form and completed a hat-trick this season; harmed his chance by refusing to settle when third at Stratford (2m, good) last month but has the potential to resume his progress if more relaxed here; one to consider.
2 Miss Estela – Won two handicap hurdles in the spring but needed to be driven along at various stages before eventually responding to pressure in first-time cheekpieces at Market Rasen (2m, good) on the more recent occasion; still quite lightly raced but will probably need to show a bit more zest to overcome subsequent 5lb rise.
3 Crickel Wood – Displayed improvement to make winning handicap debut over C&D (good to soft) in November; fell on next outing and was no match for the clear winner when second back in novice company here in March but is not yet fully exposed in this sphere and his trainer usually does well at this time of year.
4 Satanic Beat – Won this race off a 9lb higher mark last season but generally been disappointing since then; may have been aided by first-time tongue-tie when runner-up at Southwell (2m, good) last month but looked laboured when well-held third at Fontwell on latest outing; cheekpieces the headger of choice today; needs to up his game.
5 Nice Thoughts – Fair Flat-racer who seemed to benefit significantly from the switch to decent ground when clear second in novice company at Ffos Las (2m, good) in May, his third start over hurdles; disappointed when odds-on to go one better last month but remains open to improvement on today’s handicap debut.
6 Northern Meeting – 3-12 over hurdles, the latest success gained when making most of the running in small-field event against her own sex at Worcester (2m, good) in July; could yet have more to offer and ran quite well on the Flat when last in action, but is likely to find it harder to dominate this field.
7 Hawaiian Freeze – Not seen on the mainland since struggling off a lowly mark on the AW in February 2014; won a three-runner maiden hurdle on Jersey (2m, good) in May and was also successful on the Flat there last month but looks up against it from 5lb out of the weights here.
myracing Forecast Prices: 11/4 Barman, 7/2 Miss Estela, 9/2 Crickel Wood, Nice Thoughts, 6/1 Northern Meeting, 8/1 Satanic Beat, 25/1 Hawaiian Freeze