The ‘dead eight’ go to post for a tricky little handicap hurdle at Warwick that might just come down to a battle between the top and bottom weights. Dino Velvet from the Alan King yard arguably sets the standard on his sixth-place finish to Le Patriote in the competitive Swinton Hurdle two weeks ago and before that was the closest to seeing which way Verdana Blue went in the Scottish Champion Hurdle. However, he’s still 6lbs higher than his last win at Stratford and won’t find it easy again here off top weight.
Kerry Lee’s Magic Dancer is another who has been running consistently well in good company but keeps paying the price in defeat by getting shunted up the handicap. Another bold show is likely, but his last win came off a rating of 124 eight starts ago and he’s off 130 now.
Dr Richard Newland is one of the shrewdest operators in the game with his small but select string and pitches Competition in here on his handicap debut. He hasn’t raced since September though and might be best watched this time.
The UK’s champion jockey Richard Johnson and Philip Hobbs team up with the consistent Leapaway who ran up a five-timer last season and reappeared in April to finish third to subsequent ran Swinton Hurdle third Fiesole. He mightn’t be finished winning yet, but carries the steadier of 11st 11lbs.
Gary Moore’s No Never has won three of his last four starts, the most recent being at Fontwell over 2m 3f in February. He may find the 2m trip here a little on the sharp side, but looks progressive.
But there’s one bright, shining light, at the end of the tunnel in Dan Skelton’s Mister Universum. Skelton cracked the 200 winners mark last season and has also proved a reliable ‘target’ trainer and a man who loves a plan.
It’ll come as little surprise that Mister Universum, who won this contest last year, returns of a 3lb lower mark and still gets to run off bottom weight. We’re take history to repeat itself.
Selection: Mister Universum @ 7/2 @ Warwick 15.55
*Prices correct at time of publishing