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2019 Classic Chase tips - Mulholland's 12/1 chance can strike Warwick success in Saturday's feature

Brian Healy 10 Jan 2019
Carole's Destrier is well-weighted on his best form and won last time; he can follow up in Saturday's Warwick feature.

Brian Healy gives his 2019 Classic Chase tips as he takes a look at Warwick's feature race on Saturday, where the marathon Grade Three contest has attracted a strong field.

The Grade Three Classic Handicap Chase headlines Warwick’s Saturday racecard, and the gruelling 3m 5f contest is shaping up to be another cracking and competitive contest with a typically big field assembled for the valuable contest.

Getting underway at 3.00pm as the fifth race on a seven-race card, the marathon contest will form part of the ITV Racing coverage on Saturday and the race could give a pointer towards the Aintree Grand National later in the season in April.

Boasting a first prize pot in excess of £40,000, a potential field of 13 runners will face the tapes, including 2018 winner Milansbar, who returns in a bid to retain his crown.

Neil King’s Milansbar (8/1, William Hill) had seemingly lost his way over fences, often failing to complete his races until first-time blinkers delivered a profound return to form with an impressive defeat of Cogry in this race twelve months ago.

Paired with Bryony Frost for the first time, the duo combined for an eleven lengths’ success, and the Milan gelding subsequently finished fifth in the Eider Chase prior to finding only Regal Flow too strong in the Midlands Grand National.

A highly creditable fifth in the Grand National followed, and he shaped as if in need of the run when finishing fifth in the London National on his return at Sandown in December.

He ought to prove sharper for that return, and King has enlisted the services of another solid rider in Gina Andrews who can take 3lbs off the veteran’s back. However, he is 7lbs higher than twelve months ago, and possible the handicapper has his measure while quicker ground isn’t ideal.

Milansbar (centre) and Cogry (far right) renew Classic Chase rivalry on Saturday.

The game Cogry (10/1, Ladbrokes) meanwhile got back to winning ways when denying Singlefarmpayment at Cheltenham latest, digging deep to hold off his rivals.

Nigel Twiston-Davies’ charge isn’t the most consistent, and his jumping can occasionally let him down. But he is a tough customer who is very capable on his day, and he found only Milansbar too strong in this race last year.

However, he has a higher mark to contend with here following his recent win, although he’ll have no issue with the underfoot conditions. If his jumping holds up then it isn’t hard to see him getting competitive for all this higher mark may just anchor him.

Nigel Twiston-Davies could also saddle Calett Mad (8/1, Unibet) who has some very useful form over fences to his name over hurdles from last term, and the Axxos gelding could have more to offer during this second spell over fences.

A dual-chase winner during the 2016/17 season over fences, he finished ninth in the National Hunt Chase behind Tiger Roll prior to contesting a Grade One at Aintree where he failed to cut any ice behind Might Bite.

He went close at Ayr next time, but subsequent runs saw him return to hurdling where he won four of his seven starts in the 2017/18 campaign.

Ninth on his return to chasing in the Summer Plate at Market Rasen, he finished fourth following a three months’ break at Cheltenham behind Relentless Dreamer, and then fifth to Rock The Kasbah prior to chasing home Harry The Viking at Kelso in the Borders National.

He could go well back in trip, but he is another for whom the assessor may just have within his grasp.

Un Temps Pour Tout (14/1, William Hill) has been burdened with top-weight for this contest, and David Pipe’s Robin Des Champs gelding ought to strip fitter for his return to action over hurdles at Aintree in November where he finished last of five runners behind Wholestone.

Very smart over fences at his best, winning the 2017 Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, he was subsequently absent following that success until making his return at Ascot in November.

Off the track for 606 days and having undergone wind surgery, he ought to strip fitter for that return to action where he was beaten around 14 lengths over a trip short of his best. Back over a longer trip and returning to fences, he could do better although he possibly could prove vulnerable under his big weight despite having won over hurdles from this mark.

Un Temps Pour Tout (left) bids to get back to winning ways in Saturday's chase feature at Warwick.

Sizing Codelco (14/1, William Hill) was a dual winner over fences back in April 2017, but Colin Tizzard’s charge has been largely disappointing since although he took a step back in the right direction when getting to within a half-length of Minellacelebration at Uttoxeter on his final outing back in May.

The Flemensfirth gelding had finished eighth previously in the Scottish Grand National, and he is entitled to respect coming from a break although the handicapper hasn’t done him any favours either with a 4lbs rise. His record fresh isn’t inspiring either, and the suspicion is he’ll need this first run.

Tizzard could also saddle Ultragold (25/1, Coral) who made a good fist of things when contesting the recent Becher Chase where he finished third to Walk In The Mill.

The Kapgarde gelding has developed into something of an Aintree specialist, and his best performances over the past couple of seasons have come over the Grand National fences. 

His last success came in the Topham last April, and while he stuck on well back at Aintree latest he isn’t sure to be suited by this further step up in trip given there were doubts over his stamina in that Aintree run latest.

Neil Mulholland saddles two in the race with Impulsive Star (10/1, Unibet) and Carole’s Destrier both looking likely to line up.

The former proved very progressive over hurdles during the 2016/17 season, winning three times prior to disappointing in the Pertemps Final behind Presenting Percy, although he may have been amiss.

Lightly-raced over fences, he made the frame in starts at Catterick and Chepstow prior to posting an excellent fourth behind Rathvinden in the National Hunt Chase, and he ought to strip fitter for his recent return at Plumpton where he found only Ok Corral too strong by two lengths.

The Busy Flight gelding steps into the handicap ranks from a very attractive opening mark, and with the services of top amateur Sam Waley-Cohen on board it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a big run.

Neil Mulholland saddles two runners in Saturday's Classic Chase.

However, CAROLE’S DESTRIER (12/1, William Hill) could be worth chancing to build on his return to winning ways at Newbury latest where the Kayf Tara gelding got the better of Ballydine.

The eleven-year old had produced an excellent performance to get to within a half-length of Native River in the 2016 Hennessy Gold Cup, and although he has been largely disappointing since with a mixed bag of efforts, he took advantage of a sliding handicap mark latest when scoring at the Berkshire venue.

He has only been pushed up 3lbs for that success which is far from harsh, and he remains very well treated on the pick of his earlier form; his Hennessy performance came from 10lbs higher, and the dryer ground here is very much in his favour.

While he’s not the most consistent nowadays, he remains capable of high-class form when putting everything in, and if he turns up here in similar mood to Newbury then it isn’t hard to imagine the eleven-year old being in the thick of things if the run doesn’t come too soon just two weeks later.

Step Back (8/1, Ladbrokes) showed good form over fences on his first two outings, making the frame behind Thomas Patrick and Tanit River in outings at Chepstow and Sandown respectively prior to scoring back-to-back wins at Fakeham and Sandown.

The latter of those wins came in the Bet365 Gold Cup back in April where he ran out a convincing winner over Rock The Kasbah in first-time cheekpieces, and Mark Bradstock’s charge probably needed the run when finishing seventh on his return at Chepstow in October behind The Young Master.

The Indian River gelding could resume his earlier progress now he has that run under his belt, and with two subsequent winners behind him that day there could be more to come from this mark and faced with a stiffer test on his second outing of the campaign.

Paul Nicholls’ Ibis Du Rheu (8/1, Unibet) meanwhile opened his win account over fences at Cheltenham on his return to action in November, beating Theatre Territory, and the Blue Bresil gelding subsequently found only The World’s End too strong back there in December.

He had shown some decent form without winning in seasons past over the larger obstacles, including when finishing fifth to Thomas Patrick in a Grade Three contest at Aintree in April; but there is a suspicion that this longer trip may just stretch him and he may struggle to see out the stiffer test of stamina here.

Ibis Du Rheu (left) has stamina to prove over the longer trip.

Chase The Spud (33/1, Ladbrokes) won’t ant for fitness, but Fergal O’Briens’ charge has largely become disappointing since posting back-to-back successes, winning the 2017 Midlands Grand National and then returning from a break to score at Haydock last November with a defeat of Robinsfirth.

The Alfora gelding failed to complete in any of his next three starts in the Welsh National, Eider Chase or Grand National proper, pulled up each time; and he beat only one home at Sandown on his return behind Morney Wing, although he possibly needed the run there.

He is at his best in deep ground however, and while the handicapper has given him a chance, he could well find this ground too lively.

Duel At Dawn (10/1, Unibet) chased home Ms Parfois here last January in the Hampton Novices’ Chase having filled the same position previously at Cheltenham behind Sizing Tennessee. 

Also an Exeter winner, Alex Hales’ charge pulled up in the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival behind Rathvinden, and he struggled to land a blow in the Tommy Whittle Chase latterly behind Daklondike.

He is another who could step up for that first run of the campaign, and the Presenting gelding remains low mileage; there could be more to come from him, and he is respected from an attractive weight.

Completing the line-up, Crosspark (20/1,Bet365) was foiled in his hat-trick attempt when finishing fifth at Wetherby behind Lake View Lad in the Rowland Meyrick Chase on Boxing Day, and Caroline Bailey’s charge probably needs to find a jolt of improvement if he’s to win this race.

The Midnight Legend gelding had scored wins over fences at Uttoxeter, and over hurdles at Southwell prior to that run at the Yorkshire track where he was ultimately well-beaten. This mark looks a stiff one on the balance of his achievements, and more is likely needed for him to win this prize.


A few of these are in their veteran years, and several look high enough in the weights; however, CAROLE’S DESTRIER (12/1, William Hill) despite falling into the veteran’s category is one who is well handicapped on the pick of his form, and Neil Mulholland’s charge can follow up his recent return to winning ways at Newbury,

The Kayf Tara found only the subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Native River too strong when narrowly denied behind that rival in the 2017 Hennessy Gold Cup, and while his form since has produced a mixed bag of results he didn’t get his favoured ground in several of his subsequent runs.

However, he bounced back on a better surface last time, beating Ballyhill a shade readily and the handicapper has only pushed him up 3lbs for that success. Assuming this doesn’t come too soon, he figures from a very winnable mark and if in similar form then he ought to go close.


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2019 Classic Chase tips - Mulholland's 12/1 chance can strike Warwick success in Saturday's feature

Brian Healy takes a runner-by-runner look ahead to Saturday's Grade Three Classic Chase at Warwick, and he gives his big-race tips for the weekend's feature race.

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