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Thursday 14 January 2016

15:35 Warwick, Saturday January 16th

The Betfred Classic Chase, run over 3 miles 5 furlongs at Warwick, is the feature event of the year at the West Midlands course, but hasn’t produced many long-priced winners in recent years. Nevertheless, winners at 18/1, 14/1, 11/1 and 10/1 in the last ten renewals provide cause for optimism as far as we’re concerned and, with the going at Warwick already heavy, wintry conditions could turn the race into a real slog.

Ballyheigue Bay (20/1) has yet to win beyond 3 miles, but arguably ran his best race ever over 3 miles 5 furlongs in the Betfair London National on his reappearance at Sandown, off a 1lb lower mark, and has an obvious chance on that form. Chris Gordon’s nine-year-old weakened out of contention after a mistake at the third last over 3 miles at Kempton over Christmas but, as a relatively lightly-raced horse with winning form on heavy going, he deserves a chance to confirm that initial promise.

De Kerry Man (14/1) is 3lb out of the handicap and has his stamina to prove, but is unbeaten over regulation fences and was in the process of running an excellent race when falling three out in the 0-145 handicap chase, over 3 miles 2½ furlongs, eventually won by Perfect Candidate at Cheltenham. The Westerner gelding is another with winning form on heavy going and looks a likely contender off his feather weight if lasting home.

Foxbridge (14/1) has yet to win beyond 3 miles 1½ furlongs, but won three times on heavy going at around this time last year and didn’t obviously fail through lack of stamina when fifth of 16, beaten 17½ lengths, behind Goonyella in the Betfred Midland Grand National, over 4 miles 1½ furlongs, at Uttoxeter last March. He’s run creditably in defeat on both starts so far this season and, although 2lb out of the handicap, may well appreciate the return to a marathon distance.

Selections: Warwick 3.35, Ballyheigue Bay (20/1), De Kerry Man (14/1), Foxbridge (14/1)


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