Betfred Classic Handicap Chase Tips

betfred-classic-handicap-chase-3m5f-warwick-saturdayBetfred Classic Handicap Chase 3m5f Warwick Saturday – When run as The Warwick National up to 2004, plenty of lightweights made it into the winners enclosure, and indeed two runners actually won from out of the handicap in the 1990s. However since it’s relaunch in 2004 as The Classic, with it’s increased prize money, higher rated animals have been to the fore, like the Tizzard trained Hey Big Spender who won with 11st12lbs on his back in2012 and Emma Lavelle’s Shotgun Paddy who carried 11st7lbs three years ago.¬† Run over 29f, usually on pretty attritional ground, and with those tricky fences down the back straight at Warwick to negotiate, it isn’t a race for the faint hearted. Unsurprisingly, experience counts, with eight of the last nine winners having competed in at least nine chases. The exception was Shotgun Paddy, (running again on Saturday) who also finished third two years ago. A recent run has been important, and all of the last ten winners had been on a racecourse in the previous six weeks. Significantly, at a tight course like Warwick, previous success going left handed has been very important, as has winning form at 3m or further. Alan King with two wins under his belt knows what is required, but out in front of him with three wins, is the master of Ditcheat, Paul Nicholls, and his joint top weight on Saturday, Vivaldi Collonges merits a close look.

An 8yo, Vivaldi Collonges was a dismal failure in last years renewal, trailing in 75L behind¬† the winner Russe Blanc, but went on to win his next two races in grand style, one of them over the course. He was a poor third on his reappearance ten weeks ago but can be expected to have benefited from the outing. He is very stoutly bred, and indeed is closely related to Paul’s Grand National winner Neptune Collonges, so Saturday’s trip should be right up his street. A year older and more experienced than last year, a much more prominent display is anticipated, and it won’t come as a great surprise if he equals Hey Big Spenders weight carrying performance of five years ago, and brings home the bacon.

Having his first race since June, The Tom Symonds trained 10yo, Kaki De La Pree ran a promising race at Bangor 36 days ago, finishing second to the upwardly mobile Ballyboker Breeze off a mark of 135. As the latter has gone up 10lbs, Kaki De La Pree’s mark of 137 on Saturday looks fairly generous and as this runner from the in form Symonds yard enjoys testing conditions, he can make his presence felt.

The last time we saw a winner of the race from Pond House was over a quarter of a century ago when father, Martin, saddled the 11yo Aquilifer to win in 1991. However, son David may improve the Pipe record on Saturday with his 9yo, Doctor Harper. Sent off the 4/1 fav for the 26f Kim Muir at the Cheltenham Festival he was never in contention, and unseated at the 2nd last. His next two runs were little better, but showed he had turned the corner 13 days ago at Cheltenham. Racing on his favoured soft ground, over an extended 26f, and staying on strongly, he failed by the minimum distance to reel in the winner Tour de Champs, and had the favourite Arpege D’Alene, 1 3/4L back in third. This was only his 7th race over fences so there could be plenty more to come at staying distances and his new mark of 143 looks well within his compass.

The stoutly bred 9yo, Viva Steve displayed his stamina credentials when staying on strongly over 24f in the Ayrshire mud off a mark of 132 in November and can be competitive off his new mark of 139.

Alan King’s 9yo Sego Success hit the deck at the second fence in last year’s renewal, when racing off a mark of 146, he started the 7/1 fav. He ran quite a promising race last time when keeping on for fourth over an inadequate 24f at Doncaster, and as he is 6lbs lower than last year, has to be of interest. A course winner on his only other Warwick appearance, it would be nice to see his owner, Timmy Leadbetter, a great supporter of the winter game, in the winners enclosure.

Lucinda Russell’s 8yo, One for Arthur looked an out and out stayer when winning easily over 26f at Kelso in October racing off a mark of 127. He confirmed the impression when staying on well over the Grand National fences, (26f Gd-Sft) six weeks ago to get within 3L of the winner off 137. Racing off the same mark on Saturday he’s well worth a second look.

Selection: Vivaldi Collonges

E.W. Doctor Harper (if abs) One For Arthur

Old Newton Cup 1m4f Haydock Saturday

Old Newton Cup

The very underrated Keith Dalgleish has done a marvellous job with the ex Sir Michael Stoute trained 5yo, Oasis Dream gelding, Pressure Point.

Luca Cumani has won the Haydock race four times since 1997, (the last time with Mad Rush, 2008) so current joint favourite, Penhill is of interest. He looked an animal to keep on the right side of when winning a Cl3 1m4f Ascot handicap, off a mark of 86 on his reappearance, when a well backed 13/8 fav. He went of at even shorter odds, 6/4, to follow up at Newmarket three weeks later off a 7lbs higher mark in a Cl2 event, but never really got competitive behind Watersmeet. He took a very strong hold, and Cumani reported that Penhill was unsuited by the course. Returned to a left handed turning track, (has won over Nottingham’s similar course) it would be no surprise to see his uber shrewd trainer in the winners enclosure on Saturday.

Andrew Balding’s very progressive 4yo Mount Nelson filly, Elbereth, looks interesting. On only her second start on turf she stepped up considerably on her first, where despite not handling Brighton’s idiosyncratic course, she was only beaten 3/4L in a Cl3 handicap off a mark of 80. Ridden by the very promising 7lb claimer Edward Greatrex, she was stepped up to Cl2 level at the Derby meeting and won cleverly off a mark of 86.(1m2f). Due to race off an 8lb higher mark at the weekend,( 7lbs will again be negated by Greatrex’s claim ) and having won over the distance, albeit on Wolverhampton’s all weather surface, this fast improving filly with just 8st4lbs (including the 7lbs claim) in the plate, has a lot in her favour, and is shortlisted.

The very underrated Keith Dalgleish has done a marvellous job with the ex Sir Michael Stoute trained 5yo, Oasis Dream gelding, Pressure Point. Beautifully bred, this full brother to the Group1 winning Visit, and half brother to the top class filly Promising Lead, who has also succeeded at the top level, was bought out of the Stoute yard, having failed to catch the judges eye as a 3yo. under the Dalgleish tutelage he picked up a Cl5 handicap at Mussellburgh last September off a mark of 67. He won a similar contest at Newcastle in April this year off 70, but it was his last run which emphasised the progress that has been made. Stepped up to Cl3 level at York at the end of May (1m4f) he stayed on well to beat Dance King off a mark of 83. It is quite probable that there is plenty more to come from this very well connected animal, and it will be no surprise to see him staying on strongly up the long Haydock straight at the weekend. Definitely one for the short list.

Roger Varian, whose horses invariably perform well at Haydock, runs his 4yo Galileo colt, Battersea. He won a Cl2 Ascot handicap (1m4f) off a mark of 90 in very taking fashion last September, but disappointed six weeks later in a similar contest, off a 10lbs higher mark at Newmarket. The Newmarket effort was too bad to be true, so considering normal improvement from three to four, he doesn’t look badly treated on 99. Perhaps he is one best caught fresh, so is well worth a second look.

Amanda Perrett’s Sea the Stars 4yo colt, Astronereus, ran a fine race in the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes at Royal Ascot to finish 3rd off a mark of 100. He has been raised 2lbs for Saturday’s contest, giving him an intimidating burden of 9st5lbs to carry. However the Ascot race has been a good guide to this, so provided the two above him in the handicap don’t come out (triggering a further weight rise), his chance has to be respected.

Alan Swinbank, who won with Collier Hill way back in 2003, runs his 4yo Galileo gelding, Kinema. He showed how well suited he is by a truly run race at the trip, when winning over Carlisle’s testing track (1m3 1/2f) last week off a mark of 84. Having run seventeen times he is quite exposed, but he has been mostly campaigned at shorter, so perhaps the step up in trip has elicited improvement. Again partnered by the very talented Ben Curtis, he is worth keeping an eye on.

Selection: Pressure Point.

E.W. Elbereth.