Covers down at hopeful Warwick

Officials at Warwick are optimistic Saturday's high-profile fixture will beat the weather.

Vivaldi Collonges (right): Tops field for Warwick feature

The track is due to stage a seven-race card, with the Betfred Classic Chase supported by the Grade Two Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle.

Frost covers were deployed on Wednesday and with the forecast snow having so far failed to materialise, clerk of the course Jane Hedley is confident the meeting will go ahead.

She said: "It's still raining as we speak and so far this afternoon we've had a total of around 4mm. It's still rain rather than snow, which is good news, and it's due to peter out in the next hour or so.

"There is another risk of a wintry shower in the morning, but after that it's due to stay dry and clear.

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"We've got the covers down and before they were laid the ground was soft, good to soft in places. I'll have a dig around in the morning and see where we are then.

"The snow was the first hurdle, hopefully we've negotiated that, the next question is how low temperatures will get. According to the current forecast, we should be okay."

Paul Nicholls' Vivaldi Collonges heads a maximum field of 20 for the big staying chase that headlines the action.

Nicholls has not declared Virak, though, with others taken out at the declaration stage including Bishops Road, Regal Encore and Gordon Elliott's Bless The Wings.

Venetia Williams runs Houblon Des Obeaux, Emperor's Choice and 2013 winner Rigadin De Beauchene.

Alan King has a couple of chances with Sego Success and Midnight Prayer while another trainer with several runners is Kerry Lee in Mountainous, Goodtoknow and last year's winner Russe Blanc.

Doctor Harper, just touched off at Cheltenham on New Year's Day, Milansbar and Viva Steve will all have plenty of supporters.

Others to take their chance include 2014 winner Shotgun Paddy, Kaki De La Pree and One For Arthur.

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