2-50 BETFRED EIDER CHASE – 4 MILES 122 YDS
Cork Citizen made a more than pleasing debut when just touched off at Taunton on what was his first start for David Pipe. He revels in testing ground and has only had a handful of runs but with David Noonan due to claim five pounds from his mount it will be no surprise to see them doing all of their best work in the closing stages. The manner in which he stayed on last time suggested that a step up in trip was exactly what he needed and he may not need to improve all that much to surpass many of these rivals.
Russe Blanc continued Kerry Lee’s fine run of run with a gutsy success at Warwick in the Betfred Chase last month. The striking grey always travelled well for Charlie Poste before asserting in the closing stages. Provided that the race has not taken too much out of him, he ought to be there or thereabouts.
Milborough won this race last year but has looked woefully out of form ever since. Wych Hill is another previous winner of this race that is due to line up. He often goes well fresh and but David Bridgewater will need to have installed more confidence into him given that he has fallen and pulled up in his two most recent starts. Sue Smith loves to have winners around here and Lackamon has to be considered given that he is in such good form.
Cork Citizen is expected to come on in leaps and bound for his recent run and has the ability to go close on what will only be his second start for the stable.
3-35 BETBRIGHT CHASE – 3 MILES
Virak has been a model of consistency this season and has finished runner up on his last three outings. A return to slightly better ground could well aid his cause and with Harry Cobden alleviating some seven pounds off his back, he looks set to run another big race. They were unfortunate not to win a similar handicap at Ascot back in December when they got to within a length of Wakanda but they beat some useful types on that occasion and the form has worked out with Houblon Des Obeaux, Ma Filleule and Unioniste all coming out to win other races subsequently.
Ziga Boy was a game winner of the Skybet Chase at Doncaster last month. He has progressed at a rate of knots through the handicaps and Alan King may not have as yet unlocked his full potential. If he repeats his recent form, he has to be considered a huge danger. Thomas Brown has never won at this level or in a field of this size and that tempers enthusiasm somewhat. He may need a bit more experience but he is consistent and may make the frame. Rocky Creek looks a pale imitation of his former self. He comes here looking to retain his crown but unless Sam Twiston-Davies can work the oracle here, this looks far too competitive.
Virak is used to carrying big weights and if the rains were to arrive, they would not cause him too much of an inconvenience. Paul Nicholls has turned a corner with his runners in recent weeks and this seven year old can be a leading player for this valuable prize.
4-35 BETFRED HANDICAP CHASE – 2 M 4 F
Special Catch is the only course and distance winner in the line-up and that win came just a few weeks ago. He is another that loves to get his toe in so the testing ground should prove ideal. Henry Challoner keeps the ride on the Keith Reveley trained nine year old and the ought to be capable of going very close yet again with him still able to utilise his three pound claim.
Five In A Row has been plying his trade over hurdles and fences this season. It was a decent run when he won his first chase last time out and that was only his second ever run over the larger obstacles. Having looked outpaced on the turn for home, he stayed on the best to see of the challenge of Sametegal and Ittirad. He is bound to improve again and is likely to rate as the biggest danger on what is his local track. Indian Temple is a lightly raced Irish raider and he too commands respect given that he has improved on each start with his new trainer. As a result of his rider’s claim, he gets weight from all of his rivals this afternoon and that will certainly add to his chances.
Special Catch knows every blade of grass around this track and his confidence should be at an all-time high. Keith Reveley specifically targets this track with his runners and the nine year old looks set to go well.
SATURDAY 2-50 NEWCASTLE CORK CITIZEN
SATURDAY 3-35 KEMPTON VIRAK
SATURDAY 4-35 NEWCASTLE SPECIAL CATCH