Few races present such a stiff test of stamina than the Eider Chase, so picking out one to deliver in Newcastle’s feature contest this week is all about looking for an out-and-out grinder.
Last year’s winner Milborough is back to defend his crown, while the second and third from 12 months ago – Summery Justice and Woodford County – could also take their chance.
However one of the more interesting participants is a horse that is a newbie to the race in Ballyculla.
Warren Greatrex’s nine-year-old is relatively unexposed over the staying trips in comparison to some of his rivals, yet has shown enough promise over the longer distances to suggest the 10/1 might be worth taking.
Based on the trends he does fall short on a couple of criteria – the last 10 winners had both won over three-miles one-furlong and had a race since Christmas – but there are plenty of things going for him.
Last seen winning in good style last December at Bangor, with subsequent Classic Chase victor Russe Blanc back in fifth, an extreme test looks just the ticket for the gelding.
So often in his races last season he seemed to lack the turn of foot to go with those at the head of proceedings but plugged on towards the end of the race.
There was a hint of a bit more speed in his arsenal last time out, but this step up in distance could bring even more out for him.
The son of Westerner finished seventh in the National Hunt Chase over four miles at the Cheltenham Festival last year, where he was in roughly the same position turning for home, but couldn’t make up any places in the final couple of furlongs.
That was a much better field than the one he faces here, and the fifth place in the Pat Taafe Handicap Chase at Punchestown subsequently suggested this race could be about his level.
He had the likes of Ballycasey and Lexus Chase runner-up First Lieutenant behind him that day, and will face nothing of their kind on Saturday.
A winner on both heavy ground and good-to-soft, the conditions shouldn’t matter too much either way for the four-time winner as he bids to give Greatrex a win in the race at the first time of asking.
All odds and markets correct as of the date of publishing.