Warwick stage the highlight of their jumps season tomorrow when the £60,000 Betfred Classic Chase tops a cracking seven-race card, writes David Hucker.
With 18 entries, including some old favourites and previous winners of the race, this promises to be a contest to stir the blood.
Last year, Shotgun Paddy showed himself to be a rising star among staying chasers when denying the veteran Carruthers, winner of the 2011 Hennessy Gold Cup, before going on to finish runner-up to Midnight Prayer in Cheltenham’s National Hunt Chase.
A disappointing run in the Coral Welsh Grand National, when he was pulled up after an early mistake, would be a worry for those backing Shotgun Paddy for a repeat win, especially as the runner-up has dropped significantly in the weights, racing this year from a handicap mark of 136, compared to 150 12 months ago.
Also entered is 2011 winner West End Rocker, but it is the novice Return Spring from the Philip Hobbs yard that headed the betting with the sponsors, shortening to 5/1 from 6s.
The main supporting race is a new addition to the card, the £32,000 Betfred Mobile Hampton Novices’ Chase (Listed) over three miles and half a furlong. It has attracted ten entries, with the joint top-rated being Deputy Dan and the mare Highland Retreat, a Huntingdon winner for in-form trainer Harry Fry.
After winning three hurdle races in a row, Highland Retreat was raised to a mark of 144 when taking on super mare Quevega at the Cheltenham Festival. She had a tendency to jump left at Huntingdon but that should not be a problem tomorrow with the inside rail to guide her.
This year’s Leamington Hurdle looks ultra-competitive and top-rated is Shantou Bob, a winner of three races prior to being beaten by just a nose by Vyta Du Rocat at Sandown.
Flintham, a winner of his last two races under jockey Nico de Boinville, was bred by the late and much-missed Lord Oaksey from his tough staying chaser Plaid Maid. This makes Flintham, owned by the curiously-named The Rasher Partnership, a half brother to Carruthers and, should they both triumph, expect a tearful gathering in the winner’s enclosure.