Bill Esdaile previews Warwick’s Betfred Classic Chase
AFTER last weekend’s Coral Welsh Grand National, there is a sense of déjà vu with tomorrow’s Betfred Classic Chase (3.35pm) staged at Warwick over the same trip on pretty bad ground with some of the same protagonists involved.
Emperor’s Choice and Milansbar are both back for another go having got no further than the first and the 12th respectively, but are hard to fancy on the back of those efforts.
Conditions won’t be as bad as they were at Chepstow seven days ago, but enough rain has already fallen at Warwick over the last 10 days to ensure this will be another slog.
A horse sure to relish the ground is Warren Greatrex’s MISSED APPROACH who ran a cracker to finish sixth in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury when last seen.
He was only just headed three from home and plugged on pretty well even though he was beaten a fair way in the end.
That performance came from a mark of 145 and remarkably he has been dropped 6lbs by the handicapper on the back of what wasn’t a bad run.
With all his best form on soft or heavy ground, he must surely be competitive here even off top weight.
He’s a big, imposing horse, so should have no issues shouldering 11st 12lbs, and the top six in the weights are only separated by 3lbs in what is a condensed handicap.
This time last year he was bolting up in a heavy ground three-mile novice chase around Lingfield where he had a horse now rated in the 150s behind him.
Missed Approach finished second in the four-miler at the Cheltenham Festival last March, proving he has the stamina for a race like this and looks worth supporting at 7/1 with Coral.
Don’t get me wrong, this is a fiercely competitive race in which a case can be made for plenty.
However, I have the feeling Missed Approach is now a seriously well handicapped horse with conditions in his favour.
Trainer Dan Skelton is a man to watch at this track and he saddles Sir Mangan who won nicely when switched back to fences at Bangor last time.
He is by no means a guaranteed stayer on this ground, though, while the trip will test his stamina reserves.
Cresswell Breeze is a mare in great form and another proven on the ground.
She finished a brave third to Benbens at Sandown over this trip last time and seemed to be running on fumes towards the end that day.
The ground will be even worse here and I worry about her being legless late on.
Kerry Lee won this race two years ago with Russe Blanc and the 11- year-old is part of a three-pronged attack from the yard tomorrow.
He’s now 2lbs lower than when winning that day, but has looked a shadow of his former self recently and hasn’t won in 11 starts since.
In fact, he has only completed six of those races and his jumping now looks a little ragged.
Goodtoknow was a decent second in this last year, but he too has looked very out of sorts in both starts this campaign.
Krackatoa King looks the pick of the three, but had a hard race at Wincanton on Boxing Day and hasn’t had long to recover from those exertions.
Missed Approach e/w 3.35pm Warwick