Arnold Layne in the pink for marathon

A faint heart popularly ne'er wan a lady fair, but if Rabbie Burns was a racing man, he would undoubtedly add prizes at Warwick today to his sage observation. The Midlands track, drenched by rain yesterday, will be no place for any but the most dogged, particularly in the afternoon's richest contest, the marathon Classic Chase.

Warwick is already in the spotlight over underfoot conditions; the British Horseracing Authority's disciplinary committee is currently considering its verdict after this week's inquiry into the controversial abandonment of a meeting in September. The ground deteriorated to heavy after 15mm of rain yesterday and a precautionary inspection is scheduled for seven o'clock this morning.

The most telling statistic in the £70,000 three-mile, five-furlong feature is a weighty one. In 16 runnings only three winners have carried 11 stone or more. That would rule out nine of today's field and, if another anorak's delight is added, one of the five remaining may have to be removed too. Only three market leaders have prevailed; last year's 2-1 victor Ladalko, under 11st1lb, was the most recent to buck both trends.

Progressive Arnold Layne, seeking a four-timer, passed Trust Fund at the head of the betting once it was announced that Tony McCoy would take over from suspended regular jockey Andrew Thornton. And in saying she was happy to secure "the best available" the nine-year-old's trainer Caroline Bailey was surely guilty of severe understatement, as anyone who watched the champion force Adare Prince home at Huntingdon yesterday will attest.

The Ulsterman's insistence that his mount, who looked for all the world out of it as he lost ground on the leaders between the last two fences, should not give up the chase was a masterclass of perseverance, strength and judgement. Ironically, it was Thornton who was pipped in the dying strides on the runner-up.

Arnold Layne, a son of that great sire of staying chasers, Roselier, has risen steadily in the handicap, and deservedly so. The grey (named for the eponymous clothes-line thief of the Pink Floyd hit song) completed his hat-trick last month with an excellent display of jumping over today's course and distance.

Up with the pace throughout, as is his way, he defied top-weight to beat The Gangerman, the pair miles clear of the rest. The runner-up went under by about an inch at Haydock next time and those behind have hardly dissed the form since either. Bengo, third, came out and scored at Leicester; Ironside, fifth, has won twice at Plumpton, including the Sussex National last Sunday; and Victory Gunner, sixth, bounched back with successes at Market Rasen and Chepstow.

Formerly a smart point-to-pointer, Arnold Layne (2.30) carried 11st 12lb last time and will think he is loose today with 10st 13lb, and can have Dick Saunders' daughter dreaming of Aintree in time. The sternest opposition may come from High Chimes, who looked as though he would relish a step up in distance when third at Haydock last month, and Trust Fund, bidding to give the Paul Nicholls yard, which sent out Eurotrek two years ago, a hat-trick in the race.

Arnold Layne is assuredly an improver, but in terms of upward mobility this season the prize surely goes to the hurdler Souffleur (3.00), who has risen more than three stone through the rankings since being tailed off at Newton Abbot on his first try over obstacles. He crowned his efforts with an easy win in the Grade One Challow Hurdle at Newbury last month and puts his new top-flight status on the line in today's Grade Two supporting feature at Warwick.

The one blip in his progress came when he was given an overconfident ride against today's rival Nenuphar Collonges but even without the 7lb pull he gets today would have been judged capable of reversing the form. The exciting five-year-old, whose name is French for prompter (his sire is In The Wings) is heading for the Ballymore Properties Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, but trainer Peter Bowen has one eye on the sterner challenge of the World Hurdle against his elders.

With most of Britain and Ireland under rain clouds yesterday, inspections have also been called this morning at Wetherby and tomorrow at Leopardstown, where the valuable card includes the €130,000 (£98,000) Pierse Handicap Hurdle – Island Life is suggested at long odds– and a good Grade Two novices' chase.

But no problems are envisaged today at free-draining Kempton. Smart chaser Nycteos returns to the Sunbury track to try to exploit his favourable mark over smaller obstacles (quite the fashion among trainers these days) in the Lanzarote Hurdle, but he may be thwarted by a horse who could prove an even bigger blot on the handicap, Panjo Bere (3.15). The ex-French four-year-old is proven in the mud, easily beat two subsequent winners on his British debut, and comes from last year's shrewd winning yard.

Chris McGrath

Nap: Panjo Bere (Kempton 3.15)

NB: Trust Fund (Warwick 2.30)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
Travel
travel
Life and Style
The veteran poverty campaigner Sir Bob Geldof issues a stark challenge to emerging economies at the Melbourne HIV/Aids conference
health
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and John Malkovich talk Penguins of Madagascar at Comic-Con
comic-con 2014Cumberbatch fans banned from asking about Sherlock at Comic-Con
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
filmGuardians Of The Galaxy should have taken itself a bit more seriously, writes Geoffrey Macnab
News
Sir Chris Hoy won six Olympic golds - in which four events?
news
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Geography Teacher

£21804 - £31868 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an enthusias...

Maths Teacher

£120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an enthusiastic Maths Tea...

English Teacher

£21804 - £31868 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a dynamic En...

SAP Data Migration Lead

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Experienced Lead SAP Data Manager Requir...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform