Only eight of the 14 runners are in the handicap proper for Saturday’s Warwick feature the Betfred Classic over the marathon trip of 3m 5f. Alan King has landed the last couple of renewals and the trainer is represented by Blazing Bailey now ten who has disappointed in both starts so far this term and is best watched at present.
Paddy Brennan is reunited with Major Malarkey for Nigel Twiston-Davies and the jockey has been on board for three of the gelding’s four career wins. Good to soft ground would be ideal for the 9-y-old but it might just be a shade tacky and my two against the field are Sona Sasta and Strongbows Legend (3.40) with preference for the latter.
The selection is 5lb out of the handicap but his excellent young conditional Kielan Woods negates that and he looked unlucky in the Sussex National last time when buckling on landing at halfway having been backed off the boards in what looked a competitive heat. This is a much better race but Charlie Longsdon may have found the key to the horse and the excellent young trainer needs a big Saturday winner to propel him into the elite of the training ranks.
There is a cracking novice chase at Warwick and I am very sweet on the chances of Alfie Spinner (1.25) who jumped impeccably when winning at Chepstow last time and connections are already considering a Welsh National hope for later in the year.
I was in danger of following Ambion Wood (3.05) over a cliff before he trotted up at Chepstow over Xmas and he is taken to make his mark in better company in the Grade 2 Novice Hurdle for Victor Dartnell.
Emma Lavelle had two entered at the five-day stage but she relies on likely favourite the unbeaten Highland Lodge who was most impressive at Haydock last time and could be absolutely anything. That said he may go off a short price and Ambion Wood could cause a shock.
Distime (2.55 Weth) ran a cracker at Aintree back in October when just held by the progressive Barbatos who won a decent novice hurdle at Cheltenham on New Years’ Day under a penalty. Barabatos is rated 139 and by my reckoning that makes Distime potentially well-handicapped off 126. He is ridden by a young 7lb conditional Dean Pratt as his regular partner Dougie Costello goes to Kempton to ride the well regarded Well Regarded in the Lanzarote Hurdle.
It could be a big day for Emma Lavelle who saddles Highland Lodge at Warwick and her Well Regarded has a leading chance in the feature but Swincombe Flame (2.50) looks very well handicapped at the foot of the weights and this potentially top class mare must run well in an ultra-competitive 20 runner handicap at Kempton.