Warwick’s high-profile card on Saturday is the target for Edgcote trainer Alex Hales.
The Trafford Bridge handler has three entries at the Midlands track.
Duel At Dawn holds an entry in Warwick’s traditional January slog, the 3m 5f Grade 3 McCoy Contractors Civil Engineering Classic Handicap Chase
The nine-year-old is yet to get his nose in front at this sort of extreme trip. However, there are not a multitude of races of this length and Hales has always been confident the generally ultra-consistent Duel At Dawn wanted this type of marathon.
Indeed, he was pulled up in the 4m National Hunt Chase at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival, a disappointment which was attributed more to a rare off-day than any question marks over getting the trip.
Hales will also be hoping to land the Edward Courage Cup for the third time.
Twice successful in this contest with Big Jim, he will be bidding for another fitting victory, courtesy of Huntsman Son.
The Class 3 racingtv.com Edward Courage Cup Handicap Chase over two miles is run in memory of one of racing’s most successful owner-trainers who sent out a host of winners from his base at Edgcote, notably dual Cheltenham Champion Chase winner Royal Relief and Spanish Steps.
The Trafford Bridge Stables handler has also made an entry for Smoother Stepper in the Pertemps Hurdle qualifier.
Chipping Norton trainer Charlie Longsdon could be represented at Warwick by Ballydine and Saint Dalina.
The nine-year-old Ballydine has an entry in Saturday’s Grade 3 McCoy Contractors Civil Engineering Classic Handicap Chase. It will be a slight step up in trip for Ballydine, a winner of three races from his 11 starts, who was second at Newbury at the end of last month following a fifth place at Newcastle at the start of December.
New recruit Saint Dalina has an entry in the concluding Racing TV Free For A Month Newcomers Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race.
There is a total of £187,000 up for grabs across the seven-race card, with £75,000 on offer for the feature race as the course celebrates past winners of its most valuable race of the season.
With the Cheltenham Festival now just over two months away, there will also be interest in the Grade 2 Ballymore Leamington Novices’ Hurdle to be run over a trip of two miles and five furlongs.
Gates open at 10.40am, two hours ahead of the first race and there is ample free parking in the centre of the course. Tickets start from £12.50 per person.