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)

Sport
sportWWE latest including Sting vs Triple H, Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns and The Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing