Events have made one decision regarding the Betfred-sponsored Classic Chase at Warwick fairly simple: with 15 runners, there is no imperative to back each way unless you can get more places than the standard first three.
At best early prices, the win book is about 118% and the place book is around 125% per-place, neither of which is especially attractive, though those figures are likely to drop a bit between now and the scheduled off time of 3:35 on Saturday.
In other respects, the puzzle is anything but simple. Fifteen runners is still quite a challenge, and it has led to bookmakers going 7/1 the field.
As usual, we can consider some 10-year trends to see if they will help. The following are the most meaningful categories, with higher values in the “Place Impact Value” and the “% of Rivals Beaten” being the best guides.
Those age-related figures are informative: younger is better, with a steady gradient until the effect begins to ease off with the youngest age group of all. Chance on Timeform adjusted ratings is also clear-cut, with higher-rated horses having done better (as you would expect or at least hope!).
The mid-band of BHA marks has done best, though not to an especially large degree, while last-time position has a counter-intuitively good record by non-completers (excluding pulled-ups, who are included in the “fifth or worse” category) and a relatively poor one by winners.
It is difficult to explain the former, but the latter may reflect the fact that this race – over the extreme distance of more than three miles and five furlongs, and on a somewhat idiosyncratic course at which fences come thick and fast at times – is unlike many others.
In addition, “trainer form”, as judged by %RB in handicaps since November, has Anthony Honeyball (57.9%, Cresswell Breeze) and Warren Greatrex (56.8%, Missed Approach) comfortably ahead of their rivals. Those two horses are among just four eight-year-olds in the field.
Lastly, Timeform’s Early Position Figures (position of a horse early in its previous races) suggest this will be a well-run contest, in which those up front may end up paying. That was the case this time last year, when One For Arthur (a winning tip at 14/1: it seems a long time ago!) picked his way through from off the pace in an even larger field.
Missed Approach is certainly interesting , though the odds compilers have not exactly been taken unawares, as he is disputing favouritism in the early show.
His form figures – 3U20-P6 – are not exactly inspiring, but they include a second at the Cheltenham Festival and that last-time sixth in The-Race-That-Was-Formerly-The-Hennessy. In the latter, he did a lot of the donkey work in an event that was run at a generous gallop, and he was still disputing the lead three from home.
Missed Approach has been dropped 6 lb and the blinkers he wore that day have been replaced by the cheekpieces he sported at Cheltenham (and on his next start, in the Scottish Grand National at Ayr).
That Missed Approach is good enough to win off a mark of 139 is not in much doubt, as judged by his impressive success in a novice chase at Lingfield 12 months ago and his second place over hurdles off 4 higher before that, though he is not proving the most consistent. Along the way, he has proved that he stays marathon trips and acts on heavy ground.
Cresswell Breeze is another success story for the emerging Anthony Honeyball, and her credentials are a little more obvious: on her last two starts, she won the Southern National at Fontwell then was third off this mark in the London equivalent at Sandown.
An uncomplicated type, effective at the trip and on the ground, Cresswell Breeze seems sure to go well providing she does not get drawn into a pace battle up front.
To be honest, there are not many others that can be fancied despite the sizeable field. Splitting stakes on two win bets is the advice, and let’s hope the race goes to an eight-year-old – one of these two eight-year-olds, more specifically – again.
Recommendations: 1 pt win MISSED APPROACH at 7/1, 1 pt win CRESSWELL BREEZE at 8/1