The Wigley Group Classic Handicap Chase is coming up this Saturday at 3pm GMT from Warwick Racecourse. Run over an energy-sapping 3m 5F 54 yards on heavy ground this will be a severe stamina test. Only one favourite has won in the last ten years. Let’s take a look at the runners.
Lightly raced over fences winning four of his seven starts for leading trainer Paul Nicholls. Unseated at the first in the Coral Gold Cup at Newbury when last seen. Yet to race beyond three miles so does have stamina to prove under top weight of twelve stone in testing conditions. Classy but opposable.
Stamina not an issue for this eleven year old who was runner up in the 2021 Scottish Grand National. Beat subsequent veterans handicap chase winner Wishing And Hoping at Aintree in October though has flopped since. Trained by the in form Berwickshire handler Sandy Thomson and will be ridden by 7lb claiming amateur Alice Stevens.
Not seen since winning the Welsh Grand National over a year ago at Chepstow. 7lb higher now and although stamina obviously not an issue has a long layoff to overcome. Stan Sheppard rides for Sam Thomas.
Lord Du Mesnil
An out and stayer who adores soft ground. Trained by Richard Hobson he’s now 3lb lower than his last winning handicap mark and ran really well on his re-appearance (without his customary head wear) when runner up to subsequent Coral Gold Cup winner Le Milos at Bangor-On-Dee. Will be staying on when many have called time and a serious player here under Paul O’Brien with headgear back on.
Trained by Henry Daly who’s in excellent form (4 winners from last 16 runners). Back on the same mark as when winning at Ascot last February following three outings this season including when pulled up in atrocious conditions in Welsh Grand National last time out. Yet to prove he conclusively he stays this trip mind. Regular pilot Hugh Nugent on board.
Rare Willie Mullins runner here who will be ridden by Brian Hayes. Lightly raced seven year old with this being only his eight career start. Had just the one run for Mullins (formerly with Henry De Bromhead) when brought down at the fourth in Paddy Power Handicap Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas when a 7/1 chance. Has shown quirks for previous trainer and untested beyond three miles. Respected more for the fact of who trains it than his form credentials.
Pulled up behind Le Milos and Lord Du Mesnil prior to a much improved effort when winning at Ascot over 3 1/4M at Newbury on New Years Eve. Devon trainer Chris Honour does well with his small string and has claims despite a 6lb rise and attempting three furlongs more than he’s tried before.
Looked very good when making all to win a Cheltenham handicap chase following a long layoff back in December 2021. Ran well for a long way in same race this season but has questions to answer now. Venetia Williams’ charge has yet to try this trip.
A winner of 4 of his 22 career starts and trained by the very much in form Ben Pauling. 5lb higher today than his latest win which came at Newbury a year ago. Was staying on well at the end of his re-appearance over 3m 4 1/2F at Haydock and this trip should suit. Has form on heavy and should be competitive under Luca Morgan.
Won this very race two years ago and can race off of a 9lb lower mark today. Been kept fresh for this by his shrewd trainer Alan King following a credible 16L 4th to Le Milos at Bangor-On-Dee last November (Lord Du Mesnil 11L ahead of him that day). Reportedly working grand according to his trainer and appears to have been trained for this. A well handicapped three time winner on soft ground who looks likely to be bang there under Tom Cannon.
Finished a well beaten 6th in the Welsh Grand National last time in shocking conditions. Has already won on heavy ground but Emma Lavelle’s nine year old may have questions to answer now after such a gruelling contest last time. Tom Bellamy takes the ride.
Ex Nicky Henderson trained nine year old who’s now in the care of Devon trainer Gail Haywood who’s yet to have a winner this season from just eight runners. Yet to race beyond three miles and would be a shock were this Ben Poste ridden gelding took a hand in the finish.
Lightly raced over fences winning three of his six starts for Chipping Norton based trainer Charlie Longsdon. Was a game winner here over half a mile less back in November although the form hasn’t worked out at that well. Stepping up in trip here may well suit. 6lb higher now mind and this JP McManus owned seven year old has each way claims.
A lively outsider. Four from four here including twice over this distance. 0 from 5 on heavy but has won on soft. Trained by Sheila Lewis who shares her training skills with her day job as a beauty therapist in Wales. Capable of running well but this striking grey is ten pounds wrong at the weights. Good effort last time mind over three miles and has regular rider Ben Jones riding
Maybe not as open as first thought. The front two in the market Mr Incredible and Threeunderthrufive have questions to answer and it maybe worth taking a chance each way with enhanced places on the 2021 winner Notachance who’s now 9lb lower and appears to have been laid out for this. Proven mudlark Lord Du Mesnil is the other horse to be interested in. He finished ahead of Notachance last time and will stay as well as anything in the race.
Selection: Notachnace (each way) 9/1 bet365
Lord Du Mesnil (each way) 9/1 bet365
All odds accurate at the time of writing.