The Betfred Classic Chase – January 16th

This week we tackle the Betfred Classic Chase, a fiercely competitive Grade 3 marathon contested over 3m 5f at Warwick. And we’re ensured the slog to end all slogs this year with plenty of juice in the heavy ground for the runners who will be negotiating the 22 fences. Let’s take a look at some of the main contenders lining up on Saturday…

SEGO SUCCESS (Best Price 6-1) Rating: 146

An Alan King chaser in a competitive winter handicap? He’s almost got to have a chance, hasn’t he? I’ve always resisted the temptation to lump on this horse for the very reason that his jumping isn’t up to much. Or at least it hasn’t been in the past. And over the 22 obstacles in this testing ground, he’s going to need his A game. That said, he looked far more like the real deal at Doncaster last time out when he was given a really good ride and won with a fair bit in hand following a slick round of jumping. You’d have to think similar positive tactics will be employed here, albeit in a tougher race and tougher conditions. The antepost support has been notable, but at 6-1 he’s getting plenty short enough to be wading in now.

MIDNIGHT PRAYER (Best Price 7-1) Rating: 135

Another King runner and the 11-year-old veteran rates a fascinating prospect in this field. He was originally targeted at the Welsh National but got pulled in the build up when he was found to be coughing. This test of stamina will certainly be right up his street and although he would be classed as King’s second string behind Sego Success, I’m not so sure that’s underestimating him. That said, he’s been trimmed somewhat in the betting and is now almost the same price as the favourite, and I’m not sure I could be having him as that given he has a fair bit to find on ratings.

HOUBLON DES OBEAUX (Best Price 9-1) Rating: 146

My idea of the winner. I’ve examined this race from every angle and I keep coming back to the Venetia Williams nine-year-old. First off, he will utterly relish the conditions. Going 3m 5f round Warwick in heavy ground is no walk in the park and you’re looking for mudlarks who will plough through it and come into their own. This chap fits the bill. Going back to the 2014 Hennessy, Houblon saddled top weight yet finished only three lengths down on Many Clouds as runner up. That kind of form entitles him to forge clear of this field. Obviously he hasn’t been operating quite at that level since then, but he remains a very smart horse and I don’t see why he’s a couple of points bigger than Sego Success.

VIVALDI COLLONGES (Best price 15-2) Rating: 142

A dangerous runner for sure. Paul Nicholls has been enduring a quiet midwinter but the signs are there that he’s on the way back and he’s entitled to see Vivladi Collonges as a live chance of a big Saturday winner. He’s a proven performer on the ground and is one of only three seven year-olds in the field who could potentially progress again this season. At 7-1 he’s perhaps a touch too short to offer value for me as his form is not enticing enough to suggest a bet, but he has the potential on his day, of that there is no doubt.

RIGADIN DE BEAUCHENE (Best price 10-1) Rating: 133

I’ve gone back and forth over this one all week. Part of me says he rates a fantastic bet at 10-1 coming off the back of a good festive win at Haydock. He will receive a stone from the likes of Sego Success and Houblon Des Obeaux and absolutely loves the mud – so everything points towards a huge run. And while I do think he’ll be involved come the finish, something is steering me away. It would take a huge effort for the 11-year-old to bang in two big wins in three weeks for me it will be a case of huge effort but not quite enough. Houblon Des Obeaux is clearly the stable first string for Venetia Williams and I think the jockey bookings tell us enough with Liam Treadwell aboard the aforementioned runner. But rule out old Rigadin at your peril.

Verdict: The betting for this race illustrates just how tough it will be to call. The entire field is tightly bunched with the outsider of 15 struggling to get quotes of 33/1. This will be furiously contested and any one of about 10 could realistically make a solid case for winning. As I said above, I feel HOUBLON DES OBEAUX rates by far the best value of the field. He will absolutely love the conditions and is primed to take a prize of this nature. Each way for me.

1pt each way @ 9-1 (various)

Good luck, The Tower

This blog was brought to you by the Tower, from our sister site Tipsters Empire. The Tower brought home another January winner yesterday at 3/1 to add to other impressive winners including CAMPING GROUND on New Years Day at Cheltenham!

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