ITV cameras are scheduled to bring us eight live races on Saturday afternoon including four from Warwick. It's often seen as an ideal prep track for a certain huge Festival in March.
The course configuration - left-handed, undulating, with stiff fences and a tough finish, echo to a point the hallowed characteristics of Cheltenham. Take a decent prize or run well here and it's onwards and upwards with more confidence to the Cotswolds.
Here's what's on offer;
13.10 William Hill Towton Novices’ Chase (Grade 2) (2m3½f)
13.30 New Bet-In-Race With Coral Handicap Chase (Class 2) (3m)
14.07 Coral Silviniaco Conti Chase (Grade 2) (2m4½f)
14.42 Coral Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle (Class 2) (2m5f)
13.49 Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle (Series Qualifier) (Class 2) (3m1f)
14.24 Trustatrader Hampton Novices’ Chase (Grade 2) (3m)
15.00 Wigley Group Classic Handicap Chase (Premier Handicap) (3m5f)
15.35 Unibet Veterans’ Handicap Chase (Series Final) (Class 2) (3m)
13.10 Wetherby - Trelawne @ 3/1
Kim Bailey's stable jockey Dave Bass is on board this talented 8-yr-old novice chaser, and the stable are throwing some pretty hefty darts elsewhere too.
I take it as a positive then that Bass is here, with the yard scheduled to be at Kempton and Warwick too. The horse has undoubted quality.
Close-up last time at Chelters, following wins at Uttoxeter and Carlisle, he tends to race prominently and can get into a good rhythm here to potentially repel all would-be boarders. Two successive career-bests the last twice, and the trainer has a wealth of experience in the game.
Nice prize of around £22k for a small but select group to chase, and a famous ancient race name - the Towton. He's rated 143, five spots less than main danger Colonel Harry, but even off levels I can see him improving enough.
13.30 Kempton - Chianti Classico @ 5/2
We're paying 3 places each-way, even though there are only 7 runners.
Excellent Class 2 3m chase with £18k to the winner. Chianti Classico's regular pilot Dave Bass is of course at Wetherby, so Harry Cobden stands in - and what a stand-in! Trainer Kim Bailey is an expert with this kind of horse and his charge won an Ascot novice very nicely last time.
He was thought good enough last term to contest the Albert Bartlett at the Festival and is unbeaten in his two chases so far. Has an entry in the Brown Advisory and is a very promising, 142-rated 7-yr-old. What a cracking contest.
13.49 Warwick - Martha Brae @ 5/1
A hugely-competitive handicap hurdle, and I'm going for a Rolls-Royce combo around these parts in Dan and Harry Skelton, who field Martha Brae.
The mare took a similar Kempton affair over Xmas in a career-best effort. She's run extremely well here in the past and is in prime nick, blossoming nicely over the past 12 months or so.
14.07 Kempton - Pic D'Orhy @ 5/2
High-quality renewal honouring the great multiple Grade One-winning superstar Silviniaco Conti.
I'm siding with another Paul Nicholls horse in Pic D'Orhy, a former high-class hurdler who's an even better chaser. Took a Grade Two at Ascot last time readily at around this trip, and has the Ryanair potentially on his dance card in March.
Won this race easily last year and will take all the beating on Saturday.
14.24 Warwick - Apple Away @ 15/8
Tip-top novice chase - and 3 miles around this stiff track on forecast soft ground will demand class and guts in abundance.
I'm going for a Lucinda Russell raider in Apple Away, who journeys down from Perth and Kinross. She's had 5 winners in the last fortnight and this 7-yr-old mare scored readily a month ago at Leicester, sauntering clear in a small field on testing ground.
She's run very well previously at Haydock and Aintree - top-drawer left-hand tracks once again - and has three potential Cheltenham targets judging by her entries.
Progressive, game, talented - I like her.
14.42 Kempton - Sonigino @ 11/2
Unashamedly plumping for another Nicholls inmate, a 7-yr-old gelding who achieved a career-best last time at Aintree, taking a similar event by 6l. He's up 6lb for that but has earned every ounce, and what a pot to be chasing - £50k+ to the winner.
This is a typically precocious French-bred who's already vastly experienced, and gives Cobden another chance on what might be a red-letter day for the jockey and his number one yard. We're paying five places each-way for this terrific handicap hurdle so you might want to consider that angle.
15.00 Warwick - Malina Girl @ 9/2
Surely one of the day's most competitive heats, and we're paying four places each-way.
Malina Girl represents the red-hot Navan yard of Gavin Cromwell, enjoying a fantastic season. She was in the process of running a huge race at Cheltenham last month before tipping up 3 out and can gain deserved compensation on Saturday.
She'd previously dotted-up at HQ in the Jewson off a mark of 135 and at 7 is improving at a rate of knots. Is entered in the Great Yorkshire at Donny in a couple of weeks and can defy the steadier of 12st, and a mark of 146, on Saturday.
Marvellous race in prospect, with some huge yards opposing.
15.35 Warwick - Thomas Darby each-way @ 9/1
One of the ever-popular veterans' races, for a smashing pot of £38k+ to the winner.
Thomas Darby is an Olly Murphy-trained warrior who won one of these at this very track in November. He's up 4lb for that and regular pilot Sean Bowen is unable to ride. However - what an able deputy we have in Harry Skelton, rarely away from the winners' enclosure for long.
That course-and-distance familiarity can stand Thomas Darby in very good stead on Saturday and hopefully reward each-way support.
Have a wonderful afternoon.
ITV Racing tips, from Betfred Insights.