Warwick Race Preview, 15/02/2021

Warwick, Monday February 15th

Warwick 2.50
Agetur UK Kingmaker Novices’ Chase Class 1 Grade 2
2m54y – Going: Soft – 4 runners

Unbeaten in two novice chase starts with much the best of them when taking the Henry VIII at Sandown in December, going much the best in a 5-length lead passing omitted 3 out, pushed along between last 2, stayed on and maintained clear lead, in a bit close to last, ridden out, stayed on well enough, was closed on by Hitman last 75 yards but never in danger. For me he didn’t have a lot left on the run-in, but he’d got it done by the time they bypassed the Pond Fence – whether he’s up to bossing the Arkle the same way as he did the Henry VIII is open to question (particularly now that Energumene is on the scene), and that goes for this race too, as there’s a realistic chance of Sky Pirate picking him off late

Won two of his three novice chases, workmanlike in beating Cornerstone Lad at Haydock in December when last seen, made most, brushed 4th, going best approaching 3 out, at most nudged along approaching 2 out, shaken up between last 2, stayed on to draw further clear approaching last, driven out, sustained effort run-in, workmanlike and decisive. Unlikely to get the lead from Allmankind here and has a bit to find

Sky Pirate**
A revelation dropped to 2m last two runs – transformed from a find-little 2m4f handicapper to a good-class two-mile novice, at Cheltenham in December niggled with 5 lengths to find approaching home turn, good ground and drew upsides 2 out, not asked for maximum effort between last 2, upsides when hit last, still not shaken up and led 175 yards out, drew clear without the jockey more than niggling/cajoling, readily beat Ibleo, who boosted the form when winning at Doncaster last month; Sky Pirate followed up over this c/d on January 16th, got in tight to a couple of fences, a length and a half down going to 2 out, drew upsides jumping, going much the best approaching last, led nearing it and jumped left, shaken up, hard ridden, found extra last 125 yards, readily beat Amoola Gold. His form in handicap chases the last twice matches, or even exceeds, that of Allmankind, and he’ll get a toe off that one and Sacre Coeur here

Sacre Coeur
Won a hurdle at Fontainebleau and chases at Dieppe and Compiegne prior to joining Charlie Mann, and likely to have finished 3rd to Zambella and Cut The Mustard beaten around 8 lengths but for exiting the race late on in Listed mares’ chase at Leicester over 2m on January 13th, led 2nd, moved comfortably home turn, niggled along from 4 out, stayed on in narrow lead from 3 out, mistake 2 out, readily headed, well held in 3rd when unseated rider last. The form gives her around 10 lbs to find to be competitive here; if setting out to make all again she’ll end up taking on Allmankind

Selection: SKY PIRATE – Alternative: Allmankind

Warwick 3.55
Paddy Power Warwick Castle Handicap Chase Class 2
2m4f – Going: Soft – 13 runners

Didn’t do much in Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham behind Coole Cody on reappearance, losing place when ridden into 13th, dropped back to midfield by the top of the hill, lost further ground and in rear approaching 3 out, well back home turn, kept on under pressure from between last 2 but no impression; fell 9th in Becher Chase at Aintree when last seen. Best watched
Mister Whitaker
Good 3rd to Simply The Betts in Stable Plate at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival, at most 6 lengths down 14th, reminder after 3 out, niggled along and kept on approaching home turn, soon more firmly pushed, left in 3rd 2 out, ridden and no extra approaching last, put under pressure, one pace, picked up when challenged for 3rd inside final 125 yards, no impression on 1st 2. Reappearance and only start so far, failed to stay 3m in Charlie Hall at Wetherby behind Cyrname, travelling largely comfortably turning out of back straight, niggled along home turn, couldn’t go with 1st 4 and outpaced approaching 4 out, not fluent, looked held when mistake 3 out, faded further before not fluent 2 out, got tired approaching last, weakened further run-in and was nearly caught for tailed-off 6th post. Trip more in favour now – whether the track will suit is anyone’s guess (all his five wins to date at tracks with uphill finishes, two at Carlisle and three at Cheltenham)
Two For Gold 
After a good reappearance when chasing home Huntsman Son at Wetherby, then failing to stay and making mistakes when pulled up behind Cloth Cap in Ladbrokes Trophy at Wetherby, came back to form when 3rd to Double Shuffle and Ami Desbois at Kempton last month, mistakes,  ridden along and outpaced 4 out, put under pressure and stayed on home turn, closed on leaders approaching 3 out, took 3rd approaching 2 out, 3 lengths down there, hard driven, no impression between last 2 till found extra a few strides off last, hard driven and only 2 lengths behind Double Shuffle last 100 yards, no more close home. Chances in first-time cheekpieces
The usual from this one – running well without winning – when chasing home Coole Cody in Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham on reappearance, a bit to do in 10 lengths 8th and niggled along at the top of the hill, more firmly pushed along and closed further approaching 3 out, sustained effort, passed more rivals and disputed 2nd home turn, every chance under a strong ride last, hard driven up the hill, wandered right, all out, not stay on, tired last 175 yards and jockey going faster than the horse, no more last 100 yards. Tried over 3m, failed to stay in Rowland Meyrick at Wetherby on Boxing Day, pushed along after 5 out, couldn’t go with leaders from home turn, well held 4 out, kept on from 3 out, no impression from 2 out, 4th beaten 17 lengths behind Canelo. Not unreasonable to expect a finish between 2nd and 4th here back down in trip
Le Patriote
Second chase win when taking an above-average novice at Hereford on December 12th,  firmly pushed along approaching bend before 3 out, hard ridden and stayed on to chase leader approaching 2 out, pair pulled clear, challenging Fast Buck when left well clear by that one’s fall 2 out, safe last, eased heavily run-in – going worst of those in contention from halfway, he might have come off second best if Fast Buck had stood up; outclassed in Grade 1 Clarence House Chase at Ascot last time behind First Flow, mistake 4th, ridden and left behind from 8th, well back and out of contention under a ride 3 out, tailed off 2 out.  Tending to run in snatches and sometimes make mistakes, whilst he stays this trip, he doesn’t leap off the page for a race this competitive
Followed up a win at Newbury in November 2019 when going in again at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day 2020, led 2 out, ridden and stayed on approaching last, jumped slightly right, driven out, idled under strong pressure, headed 75 yards out, found a bit more last couple of strides and headed Saint Calvados on the post. Has run well without winning all starts since, last time at Newbury on November 27th  mistakes 5th and 6th, rear of the main group and moved comfortably after 11th, 7 lengths to find 4 out, pulled wide before 3 out, made a little ground but no impression on leaders before 2 out, put under pressure, kept on approaching last, stayed on under driving last 150 yards, took 4th close home, gaining a little on the 3rd but never a chance of getting the place, nearest finish and 4th to Clondaw Castle. More of the same likely
Gala Ball
Goes well at Newbury and sound reappearance run there on November 27th, led, blundered 1st, raced keenly, moved comfortably after 12th, half a length up 4 out, niggled along, more firmly ridden along 3 out, stayed on, mistake 2 out and headed, hard driven, switched outside rival going to last, outpaced, hard driven, kept on, picked up and closed on 2nd last 100 yards, got the place post, no chance with Clondaw Castle and beaten just over 2 lengths. Disappointed at Wincanton behind Capeland last time, tracked leaders, mistakes, niggled along and lost place approaching turn out of back straight, dropped rear appoaching 4 out, hard driven approaching home turn, no impression and dropped further back approaching 3 out, well held 2 out, tailed off last. Chance on the Newbury run
Admiral’s Secret
Usually ponied to the start. Completed a long-range hattrick when winning at Ludlow on reappearance on December 16th, last after 9th with 7 lengths to find, made marked progress from turning out of the back straight, gradually passed many rivals on the bit, ended up tracking 1st 2 with 3 lengths to find home turn, edged closer and chased leader from 4 out, at most niggled along from 3 out and clearly going best, produced to challenge 2 out, rather cajoled upsides approaching last, led on landing, finally put under pressure, found extra and pulled clear of Molineaux last 150 yards. Comes with issues as he’s refused to race twice, but prior to his last three runs he was 2nd twice, and has been sweet for over a year and a half. Off his highest ever mark, he might be good enough to run close
Won Class 2 handicap chase at Sedgefield on 1st March 2020 on what turned out to be his last start of the season; on reappearance and only start so far, good 2nd to Drumconnor Lad at Ayr on October 31st, chased leader, raced freely, led 3rd, more settled when blundered 5th and ridden/reminder, chased leader after, mistake 8th, ridden into 9th, lost 2nd turning out of back straight, relegated to 4th approaching 4 out, ridden and kept on approaching 3 out, stayed on under a ride and half a chance going to 2 out, kept on under pressure between last 2, no extra and held last, ridden out, stuck to task, no impression on winner. A bit hair-raising early on when he raced with the choke out, but that didn’t cost him this time – he was beaten by a better horse on the day. With an amazing record – not out of the 1st 2 since Boxing Day 2018 – he’s worth a try in something this good
Smarty Wild
Still not perfect at his fences, but got his first chase win at the fourth time of asking at Kempton on January 9th, prominent 3rd, tracked leaders 7th, steadied into and mistake 10th, midfield after, niggled along after 11th, headway and prominent again 12th, chased leader and pushed along home turn, drew upsides leader 3 out, hard ridden, led 2 out, was strongly challenged by Pistol Whipped and going nowhere near as well as that one between last 2, put under strong pressure, stayed on well going to last, driven out, found more than challenger last 150 yards, sustained effort to the line.  Normally raced right-handed, with a career record going this way round of 604 (beaten 9 lengths once, tailed off on the other two), I’m not sure we’ll see him at his best here
Another Crick
Not out of the 1st 2 over fences, winning at Newbury in December 2018 ( ridden into 4 out, challenged leader and moved best, shaken up 3 out, hung left into rival, half a length down 2 out, hard driven, drew upsides Early Du Lemo approaching last but still lugged left and not go past, the better jump, ridden clear, stayed on well, maintained clear advantage to the line, workmanlike and decisive) and Kempton in February 2019 (safe with the race from between the last two when beating Dandridge 13 lengths). Off for 654 days before reappearing over hurdles at Uttoxeter in December, and ran well though it wasn’t entirely satisfactory; held up, slightly detached last and took a bit of a hold when slow 2nd, closer order approaching turn out of back straight and closing in midfield home turn, travelled comfortably, edged closer on the bit from 3 out, ridden into 2 out, manoeuvred well away from the two rivals racing towards middle/inner, pushed along and lugged left, a length and a half behind when steadied into and mistake last, ridden and readily outpaced last 150 yards, beaten just short of 5 lengths behind Lord Of Kerak. Disconcerting that he hung left – as he did when winning at Newbury – it might not be so much of an issue if he can bag the rail, but going in to this he’s unexposed over fences and might run well
Louis’ Vac Pouch
No wins for getting on for two years now and has finished 7th on his last five completed starts, beaten 24 lengths or more on his last four completions, last time at Ascot some 15 lengths behind when pushed along after 11th, a little ground before 12th, hit 13th and pushed along, carried head to one side, no headway before 3 out, ridden along home turn, well held 2 out and beaten 27 lengths behind Dashel Drasher. Best watched for now
Sir Jack Yeats
A Fakenham specialist, he ran above his odds when 2nd to Beau Bay in Grand Sefton over the National fences at Aintree in December, went 3 lengths clear by 14th, ridden into 15th, not so far ahead when steadied into 3 out, arguably moved best of the field approaching 2 out, pushed along between last 2, stayed on in front after last, was closed on at the Elbow, headed 200 yards out, kept on under pressure last 150 yards – cracking effort from the front, as was his last time out-run at Sandown on January 2nd, mistakes 10th and 11th, ridden into and jumped left 12th, same again 13th, niggled along before ridden into 3 out, was at most a length up, found a bit extra home turn, in close to 2 out, was challenged, put under pressure, headed last, rallied under pressure, faded last 100 yards, lost ground on 1st 2 and was being closed on by the 4th last strides, 3rd to Doitforthevillage. This is a tougher race but, with the line of fences down the side before the home turn, up front where you normally find this one might be the place to be

Shortlist: Spiritofthegames, Oldgrangewood, Flowery