The Sunday before the Cheltenham Festival inevitably feels like the calm before the storm, but the Warwick card is competitive enough, at least numerically, and may provide an opportunity to swell the coffers ahead of the potential minefield later in the week. The suggestion is Piton Pete in the opening Newark Livestock Market (2.20). Oliver Sherwood’s 7-year-old missed the whole of the 2016/17 season through injury, but gained just reward for a couple of decent efforts in defeat, after an absence of 546 days, when winning a maiden hurdle at Towcester last time.
The Westerner gelding had looked like opening his account on his previous start, over 2 miles 3½ furlongs, at Hereford, but was outstayed by the front pair from the home turn, eventually finishing third, beaten 8½ lengths. Despite his pedigree and the fact that he has apparently filled out during his time off, Piton Pete doesn’t look the strongest of stayers, so the minimum trip, on rain-softened ground, on a sharp course such as Warwick should play to his strengths. He carries a 6lb penalty against 16, largely unexposed, rivals, but jumps well and appeals as the late maturing type with whom his trainer traditionally does well.
Selection: Warwick 2.20 Piton Pete to win