Tag Archive for: classic chase

Scudamore confident Roque can rise to Classic challenge

Improving young stayer Gericault Roque takes on 14 rivals in a competitive renewal of the Agetur UK Ltd Classic Handicap Chase at Warwick, with jockey Tom Scudamore confident he holds “a good chance”.

The David Pipe-trained six-year-old has been placed in all three starts over fences, including when a length and a quarter behind Saint Palais at Newbury last month, with the pair 11 lengths clear of the rest.

Scudamore is hopeful he can break his duck over fences at the fourth attempt in the Grade Three contest, run over three miles and five furlongs.

“It was a tremendous run last time and he is a young, improving stayer and he looks an exciting horse for the future,” said Scudamore.

“He was beaten by a good horse at Newbury and they are both good, improving young horses who pulled a long way clear.

“Obviously the handicapper has had his say – he has put up us 6lb, and the winner went up 10lb.

“The form of his last two runs have worked out very well and you’d like to think he would have a good chance. He is a horse we have always liked.

“It is a competitive race, but these big handicaps are, and this is the level we think he is at.”

The race could be something of a family affair, as his eight-time champion jump jockey father Peter Scudamore assists partner Lucinda Russell, who saddles Corach Rambler.

The eight-year-old is still a novice and had the option of running in the Hampton Novices’ Chase earlier on the card.

However, rather than opting for the three-mile event, he bids for a hat-trick over this further distance, having followed up victory at Aintree with another at Cheltenham over an extended three miles and one furlong last month.

Scudamore said: “The Hampton looked a very difficult task for him and I couldn’t see him beating Paul Nicholls’ horse (Threeunderthrufive).

“I think Corach Rambler will need to improve on anything he has shown to win, but there is hope, stepping up in trip.

“His dam’s sister won over three miles. There is hope, rather than great confidence.

“He was a six-year-old point-to-pointer when we bought him to win a race at Hexham – and he has won at Aintree and Cheltenham, so I’m delighted with him. He has been a wonderful horse for The Ramblers syndicate.

“He is a novice but he is an eight-year-old and he is strong enough to do this. He seems in great form.

“We are looking for a big run, but I often think it is harder for the top weights in these long-distance races. He well deserves his chance and it is a £100,000 race, so I hope he does a One For Arthur!”

Notachance and Tom Cannon on their way to winning the Classic Chase last year
Notachance and Tom Cannon on their way to winning the Classic Chase last year (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

The Alan King-trained Notachance won this race last year under Tom Cannon and runs off the same mark sporting a first-time visor, having been pulled up in three of his four subsequent starts.

Cannon said: “He was good in the race last year as he entered it on the crest of a wave. He had won his previous race at Bangor and things were going his way.

“He was an up-and-coming horse. He won the Classic Chase, then after that he pulled up slightly lame at Haydock next time out.

“He just lost his confidence a bit and when he went for the Scottish National he had not had the best preparation going into it, so you can draw a line through the end of last season with him.

“He went to Newcastle first time out this season and was probably always going to need the run, but he showed a bit more at Haydock last time.

“This has been the plan since the start of the season. It was nice that he showed that bit more at Haydock the last day and hopefully he is coming to the boil nicely.”

Evan Williams is hoping the ground will be suitable for No Rematch, who signed off last season with an impressive win in heavy ground at Chepstow, but pulled up on his seasonal return at Exeter after 10 months off.

“I think he needed the run,” said Williams. “A lot of ours have missed the autumn because it was too dry. Tomorrow might be dry enough for us and I will have a look at the track, because this is a horse who wants proper soft ground.

“I like the horse, but I would say he is a proper winter ground horse.”

There are four last-time winners in the line-up and they include 11-year-old Head To The Stars who landed a three-mile handicap at Ludlow last month, following his fair third over the same trip at Warwick.

Trainer Henry Daly said: “He produced a nice run last time. Three-miles-five is fine for him. He seems in good order. He does have the ability to throw a shocker in for whatever reason, but that is just him.

“At Perth, back in April, he had a very legitimate excuse. He managed to put his front feet in the open ditch, which most people didn’t see and he was pulled up, quite reasonably, but he ran well at Warwick in November and won well at Ludlow. He is in good order.”

In a deep renewal, big yards are also represented by Padleyourowncanoe (Dan Skelton), Achille (Venetia Williams), Eclair Surf (Emma Lavelle), Grace A Vous Enki (Paul Nicholls), Jerrysback (Philip Hobbs) and The Hollow Ginge (Nigel Twiston-Davies).

No King George bid for sidelined Royale Pagaille

The Ladbrokes King George VI Chase will come too soon for exciting chaser Royale Pagaille, according to his trainer Venetia Williams.

The seven-year-old completed a hat-trick of victories last season before finishing a fine sixth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Royale Pagaille made his return at Haydock last month, finishing runner-up to A Plus Tard in the Grade One Betfair Chase.

Hopes were high that the lightly-raced gelding, owned by Susannah Ricci, would be poised to run in Kempton’s Boxing Day feature. However, he remains on the easy list.

Williams said: “He won’t be running in the King George. I can’t say for sure how long he will be sidelined for.

“He got a wound at Haydock which had to be stitched and it has taken a while to get better.

“So, I can’t say when he will be back, but hopefully it will be some time in January.”

The in-form Kings Caple-based trainer is also mulling over options for Commodore, who jumped his eight rivals into submission at Cheltenham on Saturday.

The Agetur Classic Chase at Warwick is widely regarded as a trial for the Grand National, which Williams won in 2009 with 100-1 shot Mon Mome.

Yet after seeing Commodore record a 15-length success under Charlie Deutsch in fine style at Cheltenham, she remained coy about the possibility of sending the nine-year-old to Warwick on January 22 for the three-mile-five-furlong Grade Three event.

Williams said: “I’m not saying Warwick is a plan. I haven’t really had a chance to discuss it with the owners yet whether the Classic Chase is a possibility, so I’m not going to say that is the plan.”

One For Arthur landed the Classic Chase en route to victory at Aintree in 2017, and asked whether the Grand National could be a long-term target for Commodore, Williams teased: “You are ahead of the game with that!”

Le Breuil in good shape ahead of renewed bid for Classic Chase glory

Le Breuil bids to make amends for being unlucky in the McCoy Contractors Civil Engineering Classic Handicap Chase 12 months ago when he returns to Warwick on Saturday.

Being slowly away put the Ben Pauling-trained Le Breuil on the back foot for a horse that likes to be up with the pace, but he nevertheless put in good late headway to take fifth place behind Kimberlite Candy.

Pauling also feels a wind operation since he finished third to Vieux Lion Rouge in the Becher Chase at Aintree will help his cause, as will his slide in the weights.

“He’s in good order with himself. He’s had a wind op since the Becher, I think that will help him a lot,” said the Cheltenham-based handler. “He just slipped his palate at the back of the second-last at Aintree.

Trainer Ben Pauling
Trainer Ben Pauling (David Davies/PA)

“The trip and track suit, but he had no luck in the race last year. He jumped off near last when he likes to race prominently and then he flew home, so I suggest that he’s got every chance of running a big race.

“I’m looking forward to it. He’s 8lb lower than last year and I’ll think he’ll run well.”

Captain Chaos was second last year and his trainer Dan Skelton is expecting another big show.

“Captain Chaos is in good form. We’ve put the blinkers back on and he ran well in this race last year,” he said. 

“I’ve not seen much from him this season, which is a bit of a concern, but he always starts his season slow, while the ground was really bad on his second start at Bangor. 

“Blinkers make a big difference to him and we know he acts here as he ran well in it last year. He is as well as I can have him. 

“He is favourite, which is a big leap of faith from those betting on him I feel, but hopefully having the headgear back on will make a big difference.”

Alan King has had the Classic Chase in mind for Notachance
Alan King has had the Classic Chase in mind for Notachance (David Davies/PA)

Notachance made a winning comeback at Bangor in November following 10 months off the track, after which trainer Alan King specifically aimed the seven-year-old at this race.

“This has been the target all the way through since his win at Bangor. He did have an entry in the Welsh National, but I never thought about racing him in that on that ground,” said the Barbury Castle hander.

“This looks like a logical race to have a go at with him. Everything has gone well in the build up. He has raced over three and a quarter miles before, so I don’t see the trip being a problem. We always thought he would be a nice staying chaser. 

“I think he is a better horse this season than last. He is more mature. I’m very happy with him and he has done well. 

“We are hoping he will be one for the Scottish National as I had that as a long-term target, but we will get this out of the way first. He won’t go to Aintree, as neither the trainer nor owner are keen on the race.”

Storm Control heads for the Classic Handicap Chase on a hat-trick after two wins at Cheltenham
Storm Control heads for the Classic Handicap Chase on a hat-trick after two wins at Cheltenham (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Kerry Lee is looking forward to finding out if Storm Control can prove a contender for Randox Health Grand National honours.

The eight-year-old has improved for stepping up from two and a half miles to three miles plus with wins at Cheltenham on his last two starts.

With those victories has come the inevitable hike in the ratings for Storm Control, but that does not worry Lee.

“He’s been in great order. I wouldn’t be unduly concerned about his rise in the ratings. He’s still on a nice racing weight in this particular race,” said the Presteigne trainer.

“I’m looking forward to finding out if he’s a Grand National contender at the trip.”

Robert Walford is hoping Walk In The Mill can bounce back following an uncharacteristic fall at the Chair when bidding to win the Becher Chase for the third year running at Aintree last month.

“He was a bit stiff after Aintree, but he’s all right now,” said Walford.

“It’s a tough race, but we’re hoping he’ll run well.”

Captain Chaos bidding to go one place better in Classic Chase

Captain Chaos, runner-up in the McCoy Contractors Civil Engineering Classic Handicap Chase 12 months ago, is among 13 horses declared for the staying event over three miles and five furlongs at Warwick on Saturday.

Dan Skelton’s charge was beaten 10 lengths by Kimberlite Candy in 2020, but got compensation when winning the Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster in February.

Captain Chaos is not the only horse from last year’s Classic Chase returning to Warwick. Fergal O’Brien’s Petite Power, who was third, and the fifth home, the Ben Pauling-trained third Le Breuil, are again in opposition.

Walk In The Mill, a two-time Becher Chase winner for Robert Walford, bids to get back in the groove after falling in the same Aintree race in December.

The Hollow Ginge, trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, tries again after unseating his rider in the Welsh Grand National at Chepstow last weekend.

Alan King’s Notachance, Storm Control from Kerry Lee’s stable and Oliver Greenall’s Late Romantic have been in good winning form this term.

Next Destination will face just two rivals in the Grade Two McCoy Contractors Hampton Novices’ Chase.

The nine-year-old made a winning debut over fences at Newbury seven weeks ago on his second start for Paul Nicholls. Next Destination was previously with Willie Mullins, for whom he won two Grade One novice hurdles.

Taking him on are Colin Tizzard’s Fiddlerontheroof and Golan Fortune, trained by Phil Middleton.

Adrimel must give weight to all 11 rivals in the Ballymore Leamington Novices’ Hurdle.

The Tom Lacey-trained six-year-old has created a good impression with victories at Sandown and Haydock.

However, he takes on several promising sorts, including David Pipe’s Make Me A Believer, the Tizzard-trained Oscar Elite, Harry Fry’s Pure Bliss and Midnight River for the Skelton team.

Lee keen to test Storm Control’s National credentials at Warwick

Kerry Lee is keen to find out if Storm Control is a Grand National candidate should he run in the McCoy Contractors Civil Engineering Classic Handicap Chase at Warwick.

Having won at Cheltenham the last twice, most recently over three and a quarter miles, the eight-year-old is on course to face an extra three furlongs on Saturday.

He is one of 22 entries for the £50,000 prize, with Lee leaning towards this race rather than Doncaster’s Sky Bet Chase at the end of the month – because it will give her a better idea regarding his stamina.

“I’m favouring Warwick at this stage, because I want to try him over the trip to see if he’s a Grand National horse,” said the Herefordshire trainer.

“He’s jumped really well the last twice, so you’d think that stretch down the back straight should suit him, but he has been to Warwick a couple of times and never run well for whatever reason.

“I’m quite convinced we can put that behind us and we can attack Warwick – I think he’ll really enjoy it.

“I’m keen to run in the Classic Chase – he worked very well this morning, so as long as the ground is suitable then we’ll try and take it on.”

Last year’s runner-up Captain Chaos, Neil King’s pair of Lil Rockerfeller and Nearly Perfect and Robert Walford’s Walk In The Mill are also in the mix.

A classy entry of nine has been received for the Grade Two McCoy Contractors Hampton Novices’ Chase.

Next Destination won well on his chasing debut
Next Destination won well on his chasing debut (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Paul Nicholls will be looking to continue his recent excellent form with Next Destination, while If The Cap Fits and Fiddlerontheroof bring smart form to the table.

Dickie Diver, Fado Des Brosses, Full Back, Golan Fortune, Happygolucky and Kiltealy Briggs have also been entered.

The Ballymore Leamington Novices’ Hurdle is another Grade Two on the card – with Tom Lacey’s Adrimel, whose only defeat in five races under rules came in the Champion Bumper, David Pipe’s Make Me A Believer and Colin Tizzard’s Oscar Elite are among 15 possibles.