January 15th, 2016 | Ian Carnaby's Racing News

Cogry could not keep our run going last week but, like so many in the Coral Welsh Grand National field, he failed to handle very heavy ground and was pulled up. I suppose you can always say that the winner, Mountainous, was not only 5lb lower than when winning two years ago but was also proven in the conditions. That meant some shrewd observers were on and I congratulate them, though for me the race was a poor spectacle and the form should not be taken too literally.

The line has started 2016 in splendid style with five straight winners, Briery Belle completing the nap hand at Huntingdon on Friday. I never deliberately tip at odds-on and callers probably found some even money, especially on the exchanges, though she had relatively little to beat and 4/5 was fair enough.

Warwick are confident of going ahead on Saturday, which is very good new because it’s their most prestigious card of the year. It goes without saying that the going will be testing and I hope to see VIVALDI COLLONGES seeing it out better than most in the big marathon chase, the Betfred Classic.

Paul Nicholls has been away on holiday but obviously passed on instructions that Vivaldi Collonges should go in this, leaving the good novices’ chase earlier on to stable-companion Silsol, who has a good chance on his two recent runs against Cheltenham winner Seeyouatmidnight.

Vivaldi Collonges found Kings Palace too good at Newbury last year but there was no disgrace in that because David Pipe’s 2m 4f to 2m 5f chaser is a good bet to land a valuable handicap before long. Although he cut little ice at the festival, Nicholls’ seven-year-old won well at Kelso on his reappearance, never looking in any danger after jumping well. Saturday after Saturday, the champion trainer wins or goes very close in quality races like this and I feel Vivaldi Collonges will give his supporters a great run.

It can be quiet on the betting front at this time of year and I’m not all that sweet on anything else, though I must say it’s a very good programme at Chelmsford with excellent prize-money. In a way it’s odd to see such a routine sprint handicap rounding things off but the Class 7 is a poor affair and when I went through them I was far from convinced that the majority would win a seller on current form.

By process of elimination, MIDNIGHT DESTINY may carry top weight to victory. His third last time is the best form on offer and I should think he will prove hard to beat, with Black Vale possibly giving him most to do. The latter is ridden by the excellent Josephine Gordon, who is outstanding value for her 7lb claim, a concession which may prove very important in a contest as moderate as this.