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Blazing Bailey can catch fire at Warwick

Blazing Bailey

There might not be too much that can be read into the fact that he has won the race for the past two years, but there is plenty to back up Alan King’s chances of winning the Betfred Classic Chase at Warwick again.

Blazing Bailey has never matched his performance over hurdles, when he was a Grade One winner, since being switched to fences but at 10 he is not quite at the veteran stage just yet.

He has been known to go off the boil for periods but came back to his best at around this time last season, winning at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day and then Ffos Las in February beating Minella Four Star, who went on to win the Midlands National, by two lengths when conceding 21lbs.

Blazing Bailey was a decent eighth in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury Newbury in November but was then pulled up in the Welsh National at Chepstow last time out. However, that race was run in testing conditions that had half the field pulling up and the upside is that Blazing Bailey has been dropped to the same mark as he was for his Ffos Las win.

Others may have a higher profile but no jumps trainer in the top 150 has a higher strike-rate than John Fergusson.

The jumps trainer who lists his “day job” as being bloodstock advisor to Sheikh Mohammed has saddled 17 winners this season, at a strike-rate of 41%, and can win the Grade Two Neptune Investment Management Leamington Novices’ Hurdle with Cotton Mill.

A maiden winner at the Newmarket July meeting as a three-year-old, one of four starts on the Flat for William Jarvis, Cotton Mill has won both his runs over hurdles - at Hereford and Fakenham – and probably found the latter track plenty sharp enough so this course may well play to his strengths.

The main race at Kempton Park is the William Hill Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle which has produced a competitive field of 20.

Swincombe Flame, from the in-form Nick Williams yard, has won four of her five starts and can make the step up from novice company off a mark of just 123.

Paul Wheeler

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