Duel at Dawn can gun them all down
THE Warwick Classic has established itself as a good start to the year for staying chasers and there are some good trends to narrow the field.
A recent run is a very important factor, with all of the past ten winners having been on the track within the past 40 days or so.
It has been pretty much a must for your selection to have tasted success over 3m or further in a chase, with shouldering less than 11st 2lb another positive factor.
There has been a fair spread of ages but you are best sticking to horses aged no older than 11, while winning last time out has been a major negative.
Maybe this is for chasers who are on their way up rather than having been clobbered by a rise in the weights for a victory last time out.
You should stick to horses that have picked up at least a couple of previous wins over fences too.
Weighing up all the trends options, DUEL AT DAWN seems to fit the bill closest from this year’s hopefuls.
He has the all-important recent run from a quiet but encouraging spin around Haydock just before Christmas and took a chase over an extended 3m at Exeter five runs ago.
He is a nine-year-old with a handy racing weight of 10st 5lb who should come on for that last outing.
Kempton hosts the Lanzarote Hurdle at 2.40 where it has been important to stick with horses aged no more than seven.
That cuts out a couple of this year’s line-up, with And The New and Theatrebar both too old to be winning.
The rest of them pass the other key test of having been on the racecourse within the past 50 days.
Outsiders have a moderate record so we’ll cross out Canyon City, Sleep Easy, Solomon Grey and Big Time Dancer who are getting on for 20/1 and bigger.
Turning to the official ratings, it’s generally best to be higher than 129 for this classy contest, which is a negative for likely favourite Kloud Gate, Mellow Ben and Milnrow.
At the other end of the spectrum, no Lanzarote Hurdle winner has had more than 11st 7lb on their back.
So Erick Le Rouge, Darling Maltaix and Doux Pretender all have that particular handicap to overcome.
That leaves us with a three-horse shortlist of Cotswold Way, Star Of Lanka and Lord Napier.
Star Of Lanka has been running well in lesser races and trainer Warren Greatrex wouldn’t be stepping him into this company without feeling he had a strong chance.
He battled well to win at Hereford last time, following up another success at that venue. He clearly deserves his place here and has each-way claims.
Cotswold Way is another who has been winning and landed a hat-trick of successes with plenty left in the tank at Leicester last time out.
It was all the more impressive because he was headed late on before getting back up to win. He stays well and the handicapper has been fair with a 4lb hike for that success.
Philip Hobbs’ runner has a chance but we’ll go for LORD NAPIER.
Although he hasn’t been winning, Peter Bowen’s sixyear-old has been performing with credit in much better races than the other shortlisted horses.
He was better than sixth place suggests at Ascot last time because he was set back by a slow jump as the pace picked up. He composed himself and finished well in that Grade 3 contest.
The handicapper has left his mark alone and this step up in distance could bring enough improvement to bring him right into this.
Top gun:Duel at Dawn looks good for the Warwick Classic