There are two to tread carefully with here in Big River, who suffered a fibrillating heart last time and Flintham, who now has a tongue-tie added to the cheekpieces so it should pay to concentrate on Duel At Dawn, Western Climate and Miss Parfois. On the figures, Duel At Dawn looks the one to beat @ 9/4 after a battling performance at Cheltenham behind Sizing Tennessee. He may improve again and should go well around the sharp turns of Warwick. Miss Parfois is improving and rates the biggest threat to Duel At Dawn following her comfortable listed win at Newbury. She is on an upward curve and can go well @ 3/1 while Western Climate’s twenty eight length defeat of Solomon Grundy on heavy ground at Exeter is questionable form, but if it reads true then Tom Weston’s nine year old has a big chance @ 12/1.
Waiting Patiently is potentially top class and has some good form to his name already in an unbeaten career over fences. Having defeated Tingle Creek winner, Politologue last season and with the form of his Carlisle reading well the only thing that could scupper win number five is his ability to handle the tight turns of Kempton. If the track proves no stumbling block the 2/1 could well look big come 2.10. God’s Own sets the standard but his best is usually saved for the spring, especially April and this race should keep him ticking over for the big festivals though he does have a liking for this course having never been out of the frame at Kempton. The admirable Smad Place is not getting any younger at eleven years of age and his form is not as good as it was including last time at Ascot where he weakened, beaten twenty seven lengths. That said, if allowed to bowl along out front he will be dangerous. On his hind quarters will be Josses Hill, who is suited by this type of track and could be value @ 6/1 if the likes of God’s Own and Smad Place are not on their best and Waiting Patiently struggles around the sharp turns.
A typically competitive renewal of this Pertemps Qualifier with the Organist boasting good form and still looking well handicapped even after a good victory at Newbury. She sets the standard @ 6/1. Prime Venture looks to have improved again and with the seven pound claim of Isobel Williams has to be thereabouts @ 7/1 while another improver is Malcolm Jefferson’s Black Ivory who won well at Aintree in December, attempts this longer trip once more and has to on the shortlist @ 5/1. No Hassle Hoff is up against it a little at the weights and may prefer better ground though he should qualify for the final of the race and would be of more interest at Cheltenham in March. Fly Camp is interesting for Nicky Henderson and Nico De Boinville. Having been absent since March when pulled up at Sandown, he returned looking in need of it at Cheltenham and will have come on for that run, has some good form from last year including a defeat of this year’s Greatwood Handicap second, Misterton and could be the value bet @ 16/1 with the hope he stays the three miles and one furlong.
Bags Groove is a course and distance winner who is progressive and likely to improve again after two good handicap victories in the Autumn. He is clearly a leading contender for this race but those wins came on a decent surface and though it may be good to soft at Kempton and a dry week forecast, good to soft in January compared to the same conditions in October can be vastly different. Trainer Harry Fry has stated he is unlikely to run in the depths of winter with the big festivals at Cheltenham and Aintree high on the agenda. River Frost, closely matched with Bags Groove in the Silver Trophy at Chepstow, a race which has produced many good winners, is steadily improving, has course and distance form and at his best has to come into calculations. As with Bags Groove, softer conditions are a worry and the fact he has not been seen since October, a vet’s certificate ruling him out of a run at Market Rasen in November.
Nicky Henderson has two entries, William Henry and Diese Des Bieffes. The latter looks the most interesting of his runners @ 6/1 after a good second at Kempton on Boxing Day to the smart, If The Cap Fits, should relish the step up in trip and with improvement to come, should be thereabouts. William Henry would look to bounce back from a lacklustre chase debut and boasts some good novice hurdle form putting him on the shortlist @ 6/1.
Paul Nicholls has won this race three times in the last ten years so any entry from Ditcheat must be respected and with only one in Topofthegame @ 7/1 . Paul Nicholls’ six year old travelled well on his chasing bow before getting the cross-fence wrong at Newbury, interestingly sporting a tongue-tie for the first time but has some good novice hurdle form to his name last season which makes him a contender but whether the tight turns of Kempton will suit this big, rangy, chestnut gelding is open to conjecture. Another trainer with a very good record in this race is Nick Williams and his entries include both Dentley De Mee and Man From Mars, with the well bred Dentley De Mee seemingly the pick of the pair and could at least hit the frame @ 28/1.
Improving types are the order of the day in the Lanzarote Hurdle and both Spiritofthegames, a good winner on his seasonal debut at Lingfield and Ben Pauling’s Red Indian have to come into calculations, market moves for either should be noted while wide margin winner on heavy ground at Haydock, Top Ville Ben, was impressive last time but it remains to be seen if he is as effective in these less testing conditions.
Count Meribel sets a fair level of form but is vulnerable to improvers, especially after the form of the Bristol Novices’ Hurdle took a knock when Kilbricken Storm was well beaten at Newbury. Mr Whipped’s defeat of Gowiththeflow under a penalty looks good and this expensive purchase can continue the promise @ 15/8. Chooseyourweapon has also beaten Gowiththeflow, admittedly in less impressive fashion but should still be considered @ 13/2 while Cave Top, Paisley Park and Knight In Dubai are all unexposed and can go well at bigger prices.
Fountains Windfall should be allowed to race out in front without too much trouble with everything in place for him to run a big race. Obviously the one with the most potential, Anthony Honeyball’s eight year olds jumping is the question mark, having fallen the last twice, including at Kempton last time when running a big race in the Kauto Star Chase on Boxing Day. If he stays on four legs he should win but the 6/5 is short allowing for that. Though most of the runners are on competitive marks, The Young Master probably wants further, On Tour and Ballykan have struggled lately and Morning Reggie may be outclassed so the value lies with Ballyalton. Having been tried in much tougher contests than this, a return to three miles looks like it will suit this lightly raced eleven year old and it is worth taking a chance @ 9/2 to capitalise on any jumping errors by Fountains Windfall.
Classic Chase 3.35 Warwick
This looks quite an open renewal of the Classic Chase and is devoid of real progressive young stayers with Cresswell Breeze and Missed Approach coming closest to that category. Cresswell Breeze won the Southern National on her seasonal bow before finding things tougher in the London National at Sandown, though that race may have come a little too quickly off the back of her win at Fontwell. She remains fairly well handicapped and with course form has to be of interest here @ 9/1. Missed Approach, meanwhile, is a complex character and not always the most straightforward, that said he stays all day and the sharper turns of Warwick could well keep him interested. A fair sixth in the Ladbrokes Gold Cup last time, if in the mood on Saturday he could take the beating @ 6/1.
Lightly raced ten year old Sir Mangan’s victory at Bangor looks fair form as the second that day, Actinpieces, ran well at Wetherby in the Rowland Meyrick on Boxing Day. With improvement possible he has to come into calculations @ 15/2. Kerry Lee’s Krackatoa King fits a very similar profile to Sir Mangan and looks ‘well in’ at the bottom of the weights after a good second to Regal Flow at Wincanton. His trainer knows how to win these types of races and he too has to be on the shortlist @ 9/1.
Jumping is the name of the game and that has let down Ballycross of late, well handicapped and clearly talented, if the cheekpieces help him put it all together the 12/1 would be too big a price with the form of his Chepstow Welsh National Trial fourth looking good, which featured the likes of Wild West Wind, Alfie Spinner and Buywise. Goodtoknow was second to One For Arthur twelve months ago and only two pounds higher, has to be considered @ 16/1 while good old Emperor’s Choice still lurks on a fair mark and if none the worst for his first fence fall in the Welsh National, could go well @ 20/1. Scottish Grand National second, Cogry is also worth a second look @ 12/1.
Quickened Clear’s Best Bets:
Fly Camp – 2.25 Warwick – 1pt win @ 16/1
Prime Venture – 2.25 Warwick – 1pt win @ 7/1
Spiritofthegames – 2.40 Kempton – 1pt win @ 16/1
Ballyalton – 3.15 Kempton – 1pt win @ 9/2