Who will take centre stage at Warwick?

Saturday 30th December, 2:25pm

Malina Girl  @ 9/2
Guetapan Collonges @ 7/1
Galia Des Liteaux @ 15/2
Beauport @ 17/2
view odds

*prices correct at time of writing. 

Warwick’s chance to shine in the Saturday spotlight is bigger than ever as its own ‘Grand National’ – the three-mile, five-furlong Wigley Group Classic Chase (3-00) – is joined at the top of the bill by the re-routed Veterans Chase (3-35). The English Midlands track has thrived since jettisoning its mainly mediocre flat programme in 2014, with a line of five steeplechase fences in the back straight providing an outstanding test and spectacle.

Irish trainer Gavin Cromwell has made his mark in British races this season, and that could have been stronger still had Malina Girl, already a Cheltenham winner, in November, not fallen when cruising along back at the Cotswold track before Christmas. Malina Girl is understandably popular, although both Guetapan Collonges, last year’s fourth here when favourite and now up in the weights, and City Chief are better off after finishing third and fourth behind her in that November race.

From December’s London National at Sandown come Beauport (a gallant 2nd), Broken Halo (fell at the second last when still in with a shout) and Fontaine Collonges (unseated rider first), with the latter making amends at Wetherby on Boxing Day with a runaway success, for which he’s up effectively ten pounds. Galia Des Liteaux lasted out three miles on this day a year ago, but has to put behind her a disappointment last time.

Major Dundee, the Midlands Grand National winner – with Guetapan Collonges well-behind – relishes a marathon distance combined with ground that is not desperate, and he has both, unlike last time. The eight-year-old mare My Silver Lining, ridden by James Best and owned by his mother-in-law, is potentially very interesting at a price, upped in distance. She took a few races to get her chasing show on the road but, with one exception, has been steadily progressive of late.

What looked sure to be a smashing staging of the Veterans Chase Final at Sandown remains terrific with almost everyone due to stand their ground, plus additions, for the re-scheduled race. The Warwick qualifier for the Final may be critical: the redoubtable Aye Right (3rd) is sure to run his race, especially with a quality seven-pound claimer riding, but Thomas Darby and Mill Green, first and second that day, stand out and the fact that Mill Green is better off with the winner and, despite his twelve years, unexposed over fences, is appealing. Broadway Boy (2-24) is growing in stature and may well be capable of conceding weight to Apple Away.

At Kempton, in the Lanzarote Hurdle (2-42), after watching Nemean Lion win over two miles at Ffos Las and then run fifth over the same distance in the Greatwood at Cheltenham (having made errors when the taps were really turned on), there’s a feeling that the extra five-furlongs may suit; however pedigree students won’t necessarily be quite so convinced. Talking of stamina, Edwardstone’s pedigree suggests that he will be fine tackling two-and-a-half-miles (2-05).

Major Dundee and My Silver Lining against the field at Warwick.

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