Andy Newton’s Saturday Column

So we now know what Sir AP McCoy has been doing since he retired from the saddle in 2015… he’s now a Civil Engineer!

Okay, I’m only messing about, but that’s the new name of this Saturday’s Classic Chase at Warwick – The McCoy Contractors Civil Engineering Classic Handicap Chase – so it tickled me a bit!

This 3m5f contest is often billed as an early Grand National trial, and that title was given a big boost in 2017 when the winner, One For Arthur, went onto land the Merseyside Marathon three months later.

Twelve months ago, we saw the old boy, Milansbar, turn back the clock to win the race and he’ll be looking to become the first repeat winner of the race. He’s sure to have his supporters.  

There are plenty of other challengers to, and with three previous successes in the contest, trainer Paul Nicholls has to be respected with his sole runner Ibis Du Rheu. Nigel Twiston-Davies, who took the prize in 2005, is also well represented this year with Cogry and Calett Mad.

Let’s take a look at the main trends and stats to help whittle down the runners. 

Having A Recent Run – This looks key, as ALL of the last 13 winners took this having raced within the last six weeks. Okay, most will fit the bill here, but there should still be a few to cross out, most notably Un Temps Pour Tout, Step Back and Sizing Codelco, who all head-off here after a break.

Winning Form Over at Least 3m – This looks a fairly obvious call, with the trip being 3m5f, but with 12 of the last 13 winners having won over at least 3m previously, it’s still worth checking as there are likely to be few runners that are stepping-up in trip for the first time.

Weight Carried – Being a handicap the weight is another key thing to note. The cut-off mark looks to be 11st 2lbs, as 10 of the last 13 winners (77%) have won this carrying 11st 2lbs or less. Again, most will fit the bill, but if we also note that 9 of the last 13 winners were officially rated between 129 and 140 this should be a help.  At the time of writing, there are only a handful of horses that are rated in that bracket, Impulsive Star,  Crosspark, Duel At Dawn, Carole’s Destrier and Milansbar.

The Market – With just one winning favourite in the last 13 runnings it’s certainly been more of a race for the layers than the punters, but now we know that we can use that to our advantage. The average winning SP in the last 13 runnings is approx. 10.5/1, while a massive 10 of the last 13 winners came from OUTSIDE the top three in the betting market. In short, don’t be afraid to look away from the main three or four players in the market, but probably not too far down, as the longest-priced runner since 2004 was 20/1.

Age – Yes, last year we saw an 11-year-old win the race, and in the last 24 renewals we’ve had 14 winners return in double-figures. However, the bulk of those were prior to 2000, and with 9 of the last 13 winners aged between 7-9 years-old this is the bracket with the better, and more recent, record.

Summary – With a good record in the race, and a decent strike-rate with his chasers at the track, the Paul Nicholls-trained Ibis Du Rheu is to be respected. Last year’s winner, Milansbar, who is the only proven course and distance winner in the field, is another to consider, but might need the ground to get a lot softer. However, the two that catch the eye the most, based on the trends are DUEL AT DAWN and CAROLE’S DESTRIER. Both the Alex Hales (22%) and Neil Mulholland (31%) yards have top records at the track with their chasers, while the pair also get in with very light weights. Duel At Dawn can be expected to be a lot fitter after a break than he was for a recent run at Haydock,  and he had some fair novice form last season over 3m to suggest he’s worth a crack at this trip. Carole’s Destrier will be flying the for the older brigade, but last year’s winner showed us this race can be won at 11 years-old. He’s up just 3lbs from a recent win at Newbury, and having won that race with 11st 12lbs on his back, he will be happy when the race starts, and he finds out he’s got just 10st 6lbs to carry.

Recent Classic Chase Winners

2018 – MILANSBAR (12/1)
2017 – ONE FOR ARTHUR (14/1)
2016 – RUSSE BLANC (20/1)
2015 – HAWKES POINT (15/2)
2014 – SHOTGUN PADDY (9/1)
2012 – HEY BIG SPENDER (14/1)
2011 – WEST END ROCKER (10/1)
2010 – No Race
2009 – No Race
2008 – D’ARGENT (18/1)
2007 – LADALKO (9/2 fav)
2006 – EUROTREK (6/1)
2005 – BARON WINDRUSH (11/1)
2004 – SOUTHERN STAR (15/2)

Classic Chase Betting Trends and Stats

13/13 – Raced within the last 6 weeks
12/13 – Had won a chase race over at least 3m 
12/13 – Raced within the last 5 weeks
10/13 – Carried 11-2 or less in weight
10/13 – Winners that came from outside the top 3 in the betting market
9/13 – Officially rated between 129-140
9/13 – Aged between 7-9 years-old
8/13 – Won between 2-5 times over fences before
8/13 –  Won by a horse aged 9 or older
8/13 – Winning distance – 4 lengths or less
8/13 – Won by an Irish bred horse
8/13 – Had raced at Warwick (hurdles, chase, NH Flat) previously
7/13 – Favourites placed
7/13 –  Placed in the top 3 in their last race
7/13 – Returned a double-figure price
6/13 – Had run at either Cheltenham (3) or Newbury (3) in their last race
5/13 – Winners that went onto run in that season’s Grand National (One For Arthur won both races in 2017)
3/13 – Trained by Paul Nicholls
3/13 – Won their last race
2/13 – Trained by Alan King

Just one winning favourite in the last 13 runnings
The average winning SP in the last 13 runnings is 10.5/1

Key Classic Chase Trends

13 of the last 13 winners had raced in the last six weeks
12 of the last 13 winners had won over at least 3 miles (chase)
10 of the last 13 winners carried 11st 2lbs or less in weight
10 of the last 13 winners came from outside the top three in the
9 of the last 13 winners were aged between seven & nine-years-old
9 of the last 13 winners were officially rated between 129-140

Main Classic Chase Runners

Calett Mad ✅❌✅❌✅❌

Ibis Du Rheu ✅✅✅❌✅❌

Milansbar ✅✅✅❌❌✅

Step Back ❌✅❌❌✅❌

Rocky’s Treasure ✅✅❌✅✅❌

Till next week.

All the best,
Andy Newton
for The Race Advisor

Andy Newton

Andy is a member of the Horse Writers’ Association and an established horse racing expert and tipster. He's been featured in Gambling Online magazine, and as an expert in the Official Wetherbys Cheltenham Festival betting guide since 2011 as well as other leading publications . Andy also has regular columns on, and and specializes in big race trends and stats.
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