One thing is certain, any stamina limitations will be exposed in the Betfred Classic Chase at Warwick this weekend. The Midlands track is also a tricky one to negotiate with fences coming in quick succession in an undulating back straight but I think I’ve found a suitable candidate at decent odds in EMPEROR’S CHOICE.
Available at 12/1 with most leading bookmakers, Venetia Williams‘ seven-year-old has only had two runs so far this season, finishing behind re-opposing rival Boyfromnowhere (7/1 with BetVictor, Coral and Paddy Power) at Fontwell before being pulled up when carrying a big weight at Haydock, where he appeared to get unsettled by an early error. Safran De Cotte (a general 14/1) was also pulled up in the same race in which Loch Ba (12/1 with BetVictor and Coral) finished second and Solix (33/1 with Coral) sixth. But this much stiffer test of stamina can see Emperor’s Choice reverse the form as he won over further at Carlisle and Lingfield last season and loves the mud as a rule.
I’d have to oppose Carruthers (20/1 on betfair) and Master Overseer (26/1 on betfair) returning from a break as they also fall outside the preferred age and weight bracket, as does Hey Big Spender (16/1 with Coral). Any Currency may also be getting a little long in the tooth but he was possibly an unlucky loser over the cross-country fences at Cheltenham last time and can be backed at 20/1 in several places.
Vesper Bell (a general 6/1) fell at the first in the Becher Chase at Aintree when fancied on his reappearance and is on a retrieval mission. A clear round could see him in the picture but he did finish a long way behind Same Difference (a general 16/1) at last season’s Cheltenham Festival. The novice Shotgun Paddy may well be suited by the marathon trip. A 15/2 chance with Paddy Power, he has more scope than any of his rivals but the handicapper has taken no chances so best of the rest may be bottom weight Royale Knight (currently available at 14/1). Though he’ll be carrying more than his allotted weight, he stayed on dourly to land a 4m contest at Kelso last month and will be thereabouts if this turns into a war of attrition.