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advising selections on which to wager, since March 2010.

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Saturday's Warwick Classic (handicap) Chase

An update on my blog from earlier in the week (see below).  
It is disappointing Waiting Patiently is not running today as that just leaves the 2m5f chase at Ascot next month to get him race-fit for Cheltenham.  Right now, I think CHARBEL should win this afternoon as Top Notch has always failed when racing against the very best. 
I'm happy having recommended COGRY earlier in the week (see below) and I hope you took the 8/1 or 9/1 available then (Thursday) as he's the clear 6/1 fav now.  It should be a good race.
Later in the afternoon at Kempton in the 3:15pm 3-mile handicap chase I am really surprised that BARNEY DWAN is not the fav.  We know he stays the trip and handles the ground, and on his day he is better than his OR141 rating. We don't know if Glen Rocco can stay this trip, and Ballykan is well exposed. Josses Hill has never looked a 3-mile chaser and the other 3 runners have something to prove.  For me, the odds of 7/2 (Bet365 & BetVictor) are very generous as I think he's more like a 9/4 chance. 
There are small fields everywhere and odds do not hold much scope for value, but I do think TREE OF LIBERTY should be the 5/4 fav at Wetherby in the 2-mile chase at 2:15pm.  He will take them along at a good clip and has that touch of class about him, so current odds of 9/4 should be taken.

I am researching the novice chases at the Cheltenham Festival, and I will be posting a blog tomorrow (or maybe Monday) and I am fairly sure I have found some tremendous value.

My Cheltenham portfolio is starting to take shape:
Cheltenham Gold Cup
CLAN DES OBEAUX, £12 win @ 12/1
Ryanair Chase
POLITOLOGUE, £10 win @ 12/1
Champion Hurdle
SHARJAH, £20 win @ 10/1 (current intention is to lay-off £10 at SP on the day)

This Saturday, the 32Red Chase is being run over 2m4f & 110 yards, and this race will likely have a significant effect on the betting market for the Ryanair Chase. Waiting Patiently (OR170) is currently available at 5/2 which - considering his closest rivals on ratings are Charbel (OR162), Top Notch (OR162) and Black Corton (OR155) – suggests there is some value available. The 11yo Hammersly Lake has a rating of OR157 but his best form is usually shown between June-September.
With all 4 of the main contenders race-fit and proven to act on a right-handed track, over the trip and able to handle the likely "good" ground (though it is possibly a bit too quick for Waiting Patiently and Top Notch), the form of this race should be strong. I thought that WAITING PATIENTLY would be the 6/4 fav for this race, as he is about 8lb better than his rivals on official ratings and on my own ratings.  The only issue is the ground, as he should be fit enough having run at championship pace for half the race in the 3-mile King George VI Chase on Boxing Day.  This looks a significant wagering opportunity at the current odds of 5/2.
At Warwick on Saturday, there is the 3m5f "Classic" handicap Chase.  The ground there is also "good" and I think this unusually quick ground for the winter months will have a significant effect on preparations for the Cheltenham Festival – remember, last year's festival was run on soft/heavy ground.  The 9yo Step Back will find this trip more to his liking than the 3-miles he ran over at Chepstow back in October, but whether he can win this off OR149 is debateable as he won the 3m5f Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown last April off OR135. I also think it is asking a lot to expect Un Temps Pour Tout to win this off OR158; yes, I know he held on to win the Ultima Handicap Chase on the opening day at last years' Cheltenham Festival off OR155 but that was over 3m1f.
There's no way I can consider Sizing Codelco off a 252-day break as he always needs a run; but it's interesting that his trainer Tizzard has booked Richard Johnson for stablemate Ultragold. The OR148 rating is a bit steep, but he's a bold front-runner and if he can last out the trip (usually seen over 2m5f, but ran well to be 3rd at Aintree LTO over 3m2f) he can sneak a place.
This race looks too much for Ibis Du Rheu as he's not convinced me yet that he's as good a chaser as he was a hurdler, nor does he suggest being able to stay this trip.
Not so the 7yo Calett Mad, he certainly stays this far and was unfortunate not to win at Kelso over an extended 4-mile LTO. He is improving with every run and looks a very capable horse, and I would much rather take the 7/1 offered about him than the same odds for Ibis du Rheu.
The 11yo Chase The Spud has seen better days, and would need to be near his peak to win this off OR143. However, the 10yo Cogry surprised a few punters, including me, when winning LTO over 3m2f at Cheltenham, and as he's run 2nd in the 4-mile Scottish Grand National on "good" ground (April 2017) this trip is well within his scope: at 9/1 (Bet365) he is one to consider.
Milansbar won this race last year off OR134 and while he subsequently ran 2nd in the Midlands National over 4m2f at Uttoxeter, both races were run on soft/heavy ground and I fear that the "good" ground at Warwick will be too lively for him.
Carole's Destrier bounced back to form LTO with a win over 3m2f at Newbury, the same C&D as when he was 2nd in the Hennessy (now Ladbrokes Trophy) Gold Cup in 2016. Unfortunately, he's never been the most consistent horse and it would be no surprise if he ran a stinker on Saturday.
Duel At Dawn is a very lightly-raced 9yo, this will be only his 12th race under rules. He was 2nd at this meeting last year when unable to concede 2lb to the talented mare Ms Parfois, and before that he was 2nd to Sizing Tennessee having been unable to concede the subsequent Ladbroke Trophy winner 5lb. He lost nothing when pulling-up in the 4mile NH Chase at the Festival (with Ms Parfois in 2nd and Sizing Tennessee in 3rd), and in his return to racing on 22nd December at Haydock he ran well for a long time disputing the lead until fitness took its toll. Unfortunately, I have missed the early 10/1 and he's best priced at 8/1 with William Hill (15/2 elsewhere); he looks primed to run well in this as the ground will be perfect for him.    
Crosspark did not stay the trip in this race last year, when running off OR136 and although he won over 3m2f at Uttoxeter in November that was off OR124 (he runs off OR135 on Saturday).  His limitations were exposed in the Rowland Meyrick (handicap) chase at Wetherby on Boxing Day over 3-miles, and I can't see him doing well in this.
Finally, Impulsive Star was 4th in the 4-mile NH Chase at the Festival last March finishing 2-lengths behind Sizing Tennessee, and that was fair form. In his only run since, he was 2nd at Plumpton staying-on well over the final half-mile to push the talented winner OK Corral. It was a slow time, but he remains a horse of potential (he's another 9yo having only his 2th race under rules) as he won a competitive handicap hurdle over 2m7f at Exeter in Feb2017. However, all his best form is in soft/heavy ground and he may need to wait for some rain.

All-in-all a tricky race to fathom, my shortlist is Calett Mad, Cogry and Duel At Dawn and COGRY is certainly in the form of his life - I'd take any odds longer than 8/1 about him.

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