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Warwick Racecourse all set for Classic Chase Day

IT’S Classic Chase Day at Warwick on Saturday and, although the action is taking place behind closed doors, four races will be shown live on ITV4 for armchair punters to sit back and enjoy, writes David Hucker.

Warwick Racecourse.
Warwick Racecourse.

The impact of Covid-19 on racing’s finances has meant a reduction in prize money for what is the course’s biggest meeting of the year, but there is still more than £141,000 up for grabs across the seven-race card, with £50,000 on offer for the feature, the McCoy Contractors Civil Engineering Classic Chase, to be run over a trip of three miles and five furlongs.

The feature race was introduced in its present form in 2004, although a similar race, the Warwick (Brooke Bond Oxo) National Chase, had been staged from 1974 until 2000.

The former race fell victim to frost and snow seven times and was also abandoned through waterlogging in 1975, but the current version has fared much better, having only been lost twice since its inception.

Rosemary Henderson on Fiddlers Pike in 1993 and Bryony Frost, who took the 2018 running on Milansbar, are the only two female jockeys to have won the race and, in 2019, Sam Waley-Cohen became just the fourth amateur to win it after success on Impulsive Star.

The race’s profile was boosted when One For Arthur took the 2017 running before landing the Randox Health Grand National at Aintree, although last year’s winner Kimberlite Candy was denied the chance to double up when racing was halted for 11 weeks because of Covid-19.

Walk In The Mill finished runner-up in the replacement virtual Grand National, but fell at the sixth when tackling the real Aintree fences on his run in December. Western Climate overcame a mistake at the penultimate fence to win a veterans’ chase at the last meeting, but the one that appeals most is Notachance, a winner at Bangor when reappearing after a 301-day break.

There is another valuable prize on offer for the Grade 2 McCoy Contractors Hampton Novices’ Chase over three miles, which has attracted nine entries, with If The Cap Fits topping the ratings ahead of Next Destination.

With the Cheltenham Festival now just over two months away, there will also be interest in the Grade 2 Ballymore Leamington Novices’ Hurdle, to be run over two miles and five furlongs. Dan Skelton has entered dual hurdles winner Midnight River.

The meeting opens at 12.40pm with the Join Racing TV Now Novices’ Handicap Hurdle over two miles, which is followed by the Class 2 Edward Courage Cup Handicap Chase.

The race is run in memory of one of racing’s most successful owner/trainers, who sent out a host of winners from his base at Edgcote, near Banbury – notably dual Cheltenham Champion Chase victor Royal Relief and Spanish Steps.

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