Andre Klein is General Manager at Warwick Racecourse. In his latest column with the Observer he looks ahead to the big race this weekend and looks back on its rich history.
If it is quality racing you are after then it doesn’t get any better than what you are likely to see at Warwick this Saturday.
The Grade 2 Betway Kingmaker Novice Chase is the feature race this weekend, it’s run over two miles and was first competed for in 1991.
Here is my proof that the Betway Kingmaker Novices’ Chase is up there with the best when it comes to quality racing.
Did you know there have been 25 Grade One races won by former winners of the Betway Kingmaker Novices’ Chase? Make no mistake that makes it an impressive stepping stone by any standard.
Last year’s victor, Flying Angel, trained by Nigel Twiston-Davis, is the most recent example, a few months after winning he went on to land the Grade One Manifesto Chase at Aintree.
But, in fairness to the very talented Flying Angel there has been some much more famous names on the Kingmaker honours board.
I’ve picked out my three favourite past winners – that need no introduction to racing fans – hopefully we will see one half as good as these three on Saturday afternoon.
Flagship Uberalles won the Kingmaker in 1999. This wonder horse, who had five different trainers throughout his career, went on to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase at The Cheltenham Festival in 2002 – the greatest two mile chase on the calendar.
He won a total of seven Grade Ones in his career and was ridden to victory by Robert “Chocolate” Thornton, who coincidentally also rode my second favourite Kingmaker winner, Voy Por Ustedes, who like Flagship Uberalles won the Arkle Chase at The Cheltenham Festival in his novice season.
Voy Por Ustedes won the Kingmaker in 2006 but went on to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase in 2007, as well as the Melling Chase at Aintree in back-to-back years in 2008 and 2009.
For the record, Robert Thornton’s third success in the Kingmaker was the lesser celebrated Kadount and well done if you already knew that!
My final pick is Long Run, who won over £1.5 million in prize money, started his career in France but was at Warwick to win the 2010 Kingmaker before going on to the greatest race of them of all, the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2011.
The Nicky Henderson trained runner also won the King George VI Chase at Kempton.
The Betway Kingmaker Chase is quality through and through. I think the past winners confirm my original statement. See you at the track on Saturday where we have a total of seven races on the card.
Gates open at 11.30am and the first race is 1.30pm on Saturday, February 10. To find out more information or to purchase tickets visit www.warwickracecourse.co.uk.