15.40 Aintree: Warne a cunning bet in Fox Hunters’ Chase
Ireland look to have a strong hand in this year’s Fox Hunters’ Chase, and Warne looks the pick of their raiders judged on his fine effort in the contest 12 months ago.
Brian Hamilton’s gelding seemed to take to the unique National fences like a duck to water, racing at the head of affairs and staying on to be finish a 5 3/4 lengths fourth of 24 to Tartan Snow.
He got badly hampered by a loose horse at Valentines that day before also hitting the fourth fence from home hard, and arguably would have gone close to winning without those mishaps.
The 10-year-old has come right back to his best in his last two runs, finishing third to subsequent Cheltenham Festival winner Tammys Hill at Leopardstown before beating Seabass by 1 1/4 lengths last time out at Fairyhouse.
He won the same Fairyhouse contest 12 months ago before contesting this race, and connections have clearly brought him along all season to peak with this race in mind.
Since winning at Fairyhouse he has been bought by Robert Waley-Cohen, who saw his colours carried to back-to-back victories in the race by Katarino in 2005/6.
Warne will now be ridden by his son Sam, who is one of the best amateur riders in the business and has plenty of experience over the National fences.
That is a big plus, and everything looks in place for a big run.
His main danger is likely to be fellow Irish raider Mossey Joe, who was recently purchased for £160,000 by leading owner Barry O’Connell and has a touch of class.
The 11-year-old has won his last five starts very impressively, including when beating Chapoturgeon by 20 lengths in the Champion Hunter Chase at Stratford last June on his first visit to these shores.
Now trained by Enda Bolger, he warmed up for this with a facile all the way win in a point-to-point at Dromahane for his new handler and a crack at next year’s Grand National could be on the agenda if he takes to the fences.
He is a bold jumper who likes to attack from the front and could take some pegging back if granted an easy lead.