Warwick preview: Horatio Hornblower can sail to success
The Nick Williams trained gelding has always been held in high regard, and had some useful form in bumpers/hurdles before making a good start to life over fences last season.
After finishing third on chase debut to the talented Sgt Reckless at Uttoxeter, Horatio Hornblower ran as well as could be expected when pitched into Grade 2 company at Newbury and finishing a 42 length third to subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Coneygree.
The seven-year-old then took advantage of a drop in class to his account over the larger obstacles in good style at Towcester on Boxing Day, jumping well in the main and staying on strongly to score by five lengths off an official rating of 127.
Horatio Hornblower then disappointed when heavily backed and finishing just ninth on 12 in a competitive class 2 contest at Cheltenham, before bouncing back to round off the campaign with a solid fourth to The Skyfarmer in a decent class 3 novices’ handicap chase at Newbury off a mark of 126.
The son of Presenting is able to race in this less competitive contest off 1lb lower, and that gives him a big shout from a handicapping perspective.
Horatio Hornblower also looks the type who should have more to offer, and another plus is that he has a decent record fresh so should not be found wanting through lack of fitness on his first start for 195 days.
Top Spin ran a blinder when runner-up last time out and looks a worthy favourite go one better in the 2m 5f handicap hurdle (15.50).
The gelding had some decent form to his name when trained in Ireland, and posted his best effort for some time on debut for trainer Jonjo O’Neill when chasing home Western Way at Market Rasen 47 days ago.
Top Spin stuck to the task well to be beaten just 1 1/4 lengths, and the winner, fourth, sixth, seventh and 13th have all won since.
That gives the form a rock solid look, and suggests that Top Spin is going to be very difficult to beat off an unchanged mark of 110.
The son of Cape Cross also has the services of Richard Johnson in the saddle, and this looks a glorious opening for Top Spin get back on the winning trail.
14.40: Satanic Beat
15.15: Badgers Retreat
15.50: Top Spin (NB)
16.20: Horatio Hornblower (NAP)
16.55: Atlantic Gold