Friday, January 12, 2024

The 2024 Classic Chase at Warwick

Unusually five of the fourteen declared for tomorrow's Classic Chase (3.00 Warwick) are mares: Malina Girl; Galia Des Liteaux; Fontaine Collonges; Credo; and My Silver Lining.

Favourite Malina Girl won the three mile three and a half furlong Jewson Handicap Chase at Cheltenham in November (Guetepan Collonges third, City Chief fourth) and was promptly raised from a mark of 135 to 146 for her trouble. 

Next time out Gavin Cromwell's mare looked the most likely challenger to eventual winner Broadway Boy when coming to grief three from home in another Cheltenham handicap last month; Broadway Boy, now rated 150, runs in the Hampton Novices' Chase at 2.24.

She has been allocated 12-00 here but Conor Stone-Walsh's five pound claim means Galia Des Liteaux shoulders top weight with 11-10. 

2012 winner Hey Big Spender remains the only winner to have carried top weight to victory.

Galia Des Liteaux won last year's renewal of the Hampton before finishing fifth in the Brown Advisory at the Festival, just over 16 lengths behind The Real Whacker. 

She subsequently finished fourth, 15 lengths behind Gerri Colombe in the Mildmay Novices' Chase at Aintree in April, losing two places before the final flight. 

At odds of 2/5f it was a surprise to see her beaten by Pink Legend at Newbury last month - connections fit cheekpieces for her first run in handicap company. 

On seasonal debut Fontaine Collonges unshipped Ned Fox at the first and, running loose, caused plenty of problems for the other runners in the London National at Sandown. 

Next time out she won the Rowland Meyrick at Wetherby on Boxing Day. 

Into Overdrive set a brisk pace up front that day but off the home bend the race developed into a match between the eventual winner and Empire Steel. Empire Steel appeared to have the initiative coming to three out but a mistake put paid to his chance and Venetia Williams' charge stayed on strongly to win 14 lengths.

That looked quite a hard race; she has been raised seven pounds for the win and, just 18 days later, I'm worried this might come a little too quickly.

Back in April, in receipt of 15 pounds, My Silver Lining beat Credo 31 lengths in the Mares' Handicap Chase Final at Cheltenham. 

My Silver Lining won at Wincanton in October and finished second behind Animal at Sandown last time - Emma Lavelle's charge stayed on well that day. The grey's profile suggests she may prefer racing right-handed.

Credo, I believe, also won at Wincanton in October and has twice finished behind Famous Bridge at Haydock; she's racing off a mark ten pounds higher and I'm not convinced this step up in trip will suit.

Guetepan Collonges was sent off 5/1 favourite for this race last year, finishing fourth behind Iwilldoit (Volcano fifth). This year he tries again off a mark ten pounds higher. 

This one stays well but was outpaced at the business end in Malina Girl's race last time - that seems to have happened here last year as well and also when fourth behind Major Dundee in the Midlands Grand National.

Connections of Major Dundee have a tilt at the Grand National in their sights after that victory at Uttoxeter and the gelding's previous third behind Win My Wings in the 2022 Scottish Grand National. 

Alan King's charge prefers racing left-handed and this has been the target for quite some time. 

He got stuck in the heavy ground behind Nassalam at Chepstow last time and will need to keep close tabs on the pacemakers at this track; connections fit a visor for the first time which apparently worked well in a recent schooling session.

Beauport's jumping is often plagued by niggling errors but his two efforts this term merit respect - fifth behind Victtorino at Ascot and then beaten one and a quarter lengths by Truckers Lodge in the London National (Broken Halo a faller).

In a handicap hurdle at Uttoxeter back in March 2022 Beauport beat Boothill conceding seven pounds; he might be well handicapped here as his chase rating (141) is seven pounds lower than his hurdle rating.

Broken Halo was close enough and hadn't been asked a question when coming to grief at the penultimate flight in the London National. His best form is on right-handed tracks and handler Paul Nicholls has indicated it took his charge a while to recover from that fall.

Percussion has run well over the Aintree National fences previously but stable form is a concern.

Of those at bigger prices, course and distance winner Volcano's running style is suited to this track;  the grey has been nibbled at in the market. He finished fifth last year and this year is only two pounds out of the handicap.

Rapper's fourth behind Broadway Boy at Cheltenham is worth a second look - he was beaten under nine lengths, one and a half lengths ahead of City Chief. 

He has yet to race over this marathon distance but didn't look like stopping when winning over an extended three and a quarter miles at Cheltenham on New Year's Day 2023.

Duc De Beauchene won the Norfolk National at Fakenham in May but has been out of form since.

As always, a very competitive renewal.

I'm going to side with Major Dundee; off 135 he'll need to go close here for any realistic hope of going on to Aintree for the big one in April.

Major Dundee is the each-way suggestion, 9/1 with Coral, Ladbrokes and bet365 paying four places.


TW said...

CREDO (IRE),162,15%
VOLCANO (FR),161,7%

Major Dundee ticks a lot of boxes.

As ever the system has taken a seemingly odd view of the race in suggesting My Silver Lining [18/1] and Credo [16/1] will be to the fore.

Credo was below par when beaten, as you note, by My Silver Lining in April but she might reverse places in this race. There are question marks over the trip but I'm hoping the ground will continue to dry and she can get involved. Credo 16/1 EW 4 plcs 1/5 odds [though she may well be bigger in the morning!]

Good luck!


GeeDee said...

One of my favourite races of the year, TW.

Good luck!

GeeDee said...

TW's three top-rated finished first, fourth and second respectively in this race.

Going from the front Volcano (18/1) took them along at a fair clip for a circuit or so but his chance had gone as they raced away from the stands for the final time.

Galia Des Liteaux (5/1) and Credo (11/1) crept into contention from midfield to join pacesetters My Silver Lining (17/2), Guetapan Collonges (12/1) Percussion (22/1).

Off the home bend the race quickly developed into a two horse affair between My Silver Lining and Galia Des Liteaux; Emma Lavelle's mare showed her liking for a left-handed track, prevailing by a diminishing threequarters of a length from Dan Skelton's mare.

Twelve lengths back Guetapan Collonges held Credo for third spot.

Selection Major Dundee (12/1) proved a major disappointment.

Early signs were not encouraging as he had to be rousted along to hold a position after the start and it went downhill from there. He raced towards the rear of midfield but was clearly struggling to get anywhere near the pace and was eventually pulled up in the back straight on the final circuit.