As a new feature for this site, NAP Time will regularly offer my best bet for the upcoming day's racing action.
For this first post the 2.20 Novice Chase at Warwick has caught my eye with some of last year’s useful hurdlers looking to continue their impressive starts over fences. Undoubtedly around the sharp Warwick track punters are in for a fast and furious 2 mile romp and I have outlined my NAP of the day for you to get some money on!
Initially this race looked like a competitive contest between 3 of the 6 runners; however, since finishing second in the 3.20 at Exeter yesterday, Claret Cloak has predictably been withdrawn. With that omission there are two stand-out horses who both had lofty reputations over hurdles, contesting various different graded races, and certainly have the right attributes to emphasise their class over the larger obstacles.
The last two renewals of this race have seen horses ridden by Noel Fehily crowned victorious and he has a good chance to make it three in a row this year on board Baby Mix (9/2 William Hill). This once Triumph Hurdle favourite got off to the perfect start over fences by winning a Class 3 Novice Chase at Newton Abbot relatively comfortably by 4 and half lengths. On that day he showed a tendency to race up with the pace, and a good ability to jump his obstacles. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to double up at the track on his last start where he plunged over the second last fence and blew any chance he had to win. Before that error, he and the eventual winner, pulled well clear of the field and both look like good future prospects. That mistake came 134 days ago and Baby Mix has certainly been given enough time to get over any lingering dents in his confidence and should be primed for this race.
The other major player comes in the form of BALDER SUCCES (4/7 bet365) representing the stable of Alan King who won this event with Howle Hill in 2006. Similarly to Baby Mix, Balder Succes was very impressive on his first start over fences at Chepstow where he beat a useful field in taking fashion, however on his last run he fell two out when in comfortable control of the race. On both days he encountered good quality opposition and looked impressive both travelling and jumping superbly prior to his fall. Highest rating in the field on official figures and dropped in class, if he replicates his past jumping ability he will have a massive chance to claim this race as due compensation.
The other challengers can’t really be considered dangers in this sphere. Both Buthelezi (10/1 Coral) and Roc D’Apsis (9/1 Stan James) showed smart hurdling form last year but, with these better sorts in opposition, they may struggle to pick up their first wins over fences. Finally there is Rebel High (40/1 BetVictor) who has struggled in races in general and is yet to win on these shores after 19 attempts. He arrives on a mark of 90 and can comfortably be ignored.
When analysing any small field race the characteristics of the track and each horse’s style of running are all important. Warwick is a sharp track with tight bends which certainly suits a handy horse as it is very difficult to come from behind to win. With these runners we are sure to have a strongly contested pace as both of the market principles and Buthelzi like to be up at the front. Another noteworthy point is that Warwick represents a proper test of a horse’s ability to jump. Although the majority of the track is flat, the addition of 5 fences in the back straight puts great emphasis on precise jumping and demands a horse remains focused on the task at hand at all times.
Although the entire field lacks a great deal of experience I believe that Balder Succes can put his past exertions to good use and has the best prospects of success. So far this season the Alan King horse has encountered and, in the most part, dealt exceptionally well with the jumping demands of Chepstow and Cheltenham. These two tracks present a true test of balance and poise and usually point to a good level of jumping ability. In contrast, Baby Mix has so far only seen the fences of Newton Abbot, a flat oval course with seven easy fences per circuit. Undoubtedly Newton Abbot is a great track for novices to learn their trade over obstacles but it fails to truly test their ability.
So although i expect the Warren Greatrex runner to put up a strong challenge, I think that Balder Succes will be a very difficult horse to beat. He will surely relish the return to 2 miles, love the good ground and hopefully will have learnt from his mistake last time out and be even more proficient over fences thanks to it.
*N.B – When I originally wrote this piece yesterday I envisaged Balder Succes to be a 6/5 shot and definitely not at a price of 4/7. Although he clearly has the best chance of winning there is a distinct lack of value in his price considering he failed to complete on his last start only 18 days ago. If he has a clear round of jumping he should win comfortably but with the danger that he might falter again it may be worth taking him on with small stakes at 5/4 (bet365) that he doesn’t win!
Selection for the Warwick 2.20 –
BALDER SUCCES (WIN) (4/7 bet365)
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