22 Feb 19
The Scottish Sun
THE usual mud-slinging and paddling over the last couple of fences in the Eider will not be the case this year.
The unheard ‘Good to Soft’ ground is as bad as it will get up at Newcastle; as 16 go to post for the marathon chase.
1. Daklondike – David Pipe/Tom Scudamore (9-1)
Was well-backed into favouritism ahead of the Peter Marsh but unseated early on.
Should be fresh and ready to go again, but this race is a different kettle of fish and no easy task lugging around top weight.
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2. Baywing – Nicky Richards/Ryan Day (12-1)
Won this easily last season but conditions were completely different and 7lbs higher here.
Still, Nicky Richards is having a terrific season and he’s as good as any at prepping one with one day in mind.
[boxout headline=”Nicky Richards on Baywing”]I’d say there’s no doubt about it, we’d prefer much softer ground for him.
It’s a very long trip, though – there aren’t many races as long as this, so I hope that will help bring his stamina into play.
I think we’ll know our fate after a circuit. If he’s able to keep in touch on the first circuit, then he might be able to creep into like last year.
We know that he’s an exceptional stayer on soft ground – he’s got to prove he can do it in different circumstances.
3. Vicente – Paul Nicholls/Sean Bowen (6-1)
Loves a decent surface and is back to the mark he won the Scottish National off.
Hasn’t been at his best this season but has always been a horse to come good at this time of the season.
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4. Raz De Maree – Gavin Cromwell/Conor Orr  (20-1)
Still going strong at 14, but still looks slightly high in the weights for the level he’s been running out.
Will be one ruing the weather as well. Could sneak into a place at big odds if bouncing back anywhere near to best.
5. Kimberlite Candy – Tom Lacey/Richie McLernon (9-1)
Another that would prefer the mud, but certainly less exposed than most and the yard have hit some form of late.
Has seen some money through the week and anymore on the day could prove to be a big clue.
6. Rock On Fruity – Ben Haslam/Alain Cawley (20-1)
Chasing a hat-trick but this is a completely different test and has stamina question marks.
Best form comes on soft too, so like many will be praying it doesn’t come up too quick.
[boxout headline=”Ben Haslam on Rock On Fruity”]He’s got plenty of speed – he’s won over two and a half.
It’s a question of getting him switched off and settled. I thought he jumped well round there the last day. If he gets into a rhythm and stays, I think he will be competitive.
He’s got some very good form in Ireland. He was placed in a Grade Three. I’m not saying he’s improved, because he is 10. He always has had that kind of ability.
It’s probably the fact in England, especially up here in the north, if a horse can get a bit of confidence they have got more chance of getting back on track.
The change of scenery may well have helped, but at the same time I think he’s just been able to get his confidence back.
7. Crosspark – Caroline Bailey/Jamie Moore (16-1)
Handicapper appears to have caught up with this stayer, but ran well enough last time in a similar race.
Jamie Moore takes over in the saddle – which can be seen as a positive – and he’ll be in the mix when the race comes down push to shove.
[boxout headline=”Caroline Bailey on Crosspark”]He ran a cracking race at Warwick in the Classic Chase just after Christmas when he was third – he was competitive until coming to the last.
This will be his first time over further, but he settles better now so he deserves to take his chance.
He’s a great jumper, touch wood. He’s consistent, he’s dead honest and there’s no side to him – he wears his heart on his sleeve.
If he gets into a rhythm and he’s thereabouts three out, you know he’ll do his best for you.
8. Just Your Type – Charlie Longsdon/Sean Quinlan (8-1)
Another less exposed and was well-backed on Friday. In control last time before falling and looks well-treated.
This a sterner test and has to prove stamina doubts, but holds a cracking chance if jumping holds up.
9. Progress Drive – Nicky Richards/Brian Hughes (14-1)
Improved for the step up in trip when third in the Scottish Borders National.
More to come over these marathon trips but maybe not here. Unexposed though and Brian Hughes is a positive booking.
[boxout headline=”Nicky Richards on Progress Drive”]This will only be his second run at this kind of trip.
He’s a nice horse, and he’s still young in terms of an out-and-out stayer.
He ran a nice race in the Borders National when he was third – and he was staying on.
I hope he can get into a good rhythm. These younger horses need to learn how to race over these sort of trips – they’ve got to switch off – but (jockey) Brian (Hughes) is good at that, and he knows him well.
I think he’s just the type for this sort of race, and I hope he’ll run well.
10. Kilkishen – John Joseph Hanlon/Danny Mullins (12-1)
The only Irish raider and holds a big shout for ‘The Shark.’ Thrives on decent ground and the handicapper has been fairly kind.
I’m sure they’ll be money around for the nine-year-old.
[boxout headline=”Shark Hanlon on Kilkishen”]He’ll love the trip, the ground won’t be a bother to him – mand I’m looking forward to seeing how he gets on.
Danny (Mullins) is going over to ride him – and he wasn’t beaten too far at Punchestown, considering he got left at the start at bit.
I like the way he did it at Fairyhouse before then, and this has been the target since. I couldn’t be happier.
11. Potters Corner – Christian Williams/James Bowen (12-1)
The Williams team have burst into life of late and could well have won last time but for a couple of bad blunders.
This longer trip will suit and if his jumping holds up he comes with an obvious chance.
12. Morney Wing – Charlie Mann/Rex Dingle  (20-1)
Have to give this ten-year-old a sniff at big odds. Stays all day and beat a decent field last time out.
Up 8lb but Dingle is claiming again and the Mann team have been amongst the winners. Big each-way shout.
13. Mysteree – Michael Scudamore/Brendan Powell (25-1)
Scooped this pot two years back but this looks a different proposition this time around.
Hasn’t been much to write home about since his second in the Midlands National two years back and needs a new lease of life to compete here.
14. Ange Des Malbreaux – Dan Skelton/Bridget Andrews (9-1)
Another coming into this off two wins, but up 10lbs for Warwick romp.
Has never raced in anything like this and wouldn’t be backing at the odds. Could well prove me wrong but can’t have above more experienced rivals.
15. Harry The Viking – Sandy Thomson/Rachael McDonald  (25-1)
Appeared to have his day in the sun when winning the Scottish Borders at Kelso.
The 14-year-old has been kept fresh for this though and another run like that won’t put him far away despite a 6lbs hike.
16. West Of The Edge – Dr Richard Newland/William Kennedy (12-1)
Handicapper has given him a squeak. 3lbs lower than when second in this last year but has showed very little in the meantime.
Best on heavy ground too. Surprised how short he is in the betting.
[boxout headline=”Dr Richard Newland on West Of The Edge”]
He’s not shown the same spark this year, and he would prefer the ground to be more testing, but we have trained him for the race – so we will see how we get on.
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