The four-mile Eider Handicap Chase at Newcastle is normally run in an absolute bog. But not this year.
This unseasonably quick ground will favour the stronger travelling types over the plodders, and that rules out quite a few who would have preferred more juice in the ground.
The current jolly at 5/1 is also a firm favourite of ours in Vicente who is on his 2016 and 2017 Scottish Grand National winning mark of 146.
It would be no surprise to see him bounce back to his best in conditions that he’s sure to love and he put in a promising run last time out behind Royal Vacation to set him up for this. But Vicente’s jumping can sometimes let him down, he’s not obviously well-handicapped and there looks to be plenty of value in the race with several apparent improvers.
I really like the chances of KIMBERLITE CANDY for the relatively small yard of Tom Lacey at current best-priced odds of 10/1.
This former JP McManus recruit has put in some very classy performances on his last few starts over fences and the seven-year-old son of Fleminsfirth only really started to get his act together over fences towards the end of his novice campaign when he put in a fine front-running performance to win a three mile chase by 10 lengths at Chepstow.
Kimberlite Candy began this season with a commanding display against lesser opposition in a staying chase at Ayr, before disappointing at Haydock on his next start. He was sent off favourite for the Tommy Whittle on that occasion, but he can be excused that one below par effort with late December at Haydock often a challenging place for many chasers.
Kimberlite Candy showed that he could still be a horse on the upgrade when he duly bounced back with a dour staying-on performance in a three mile handicap at Sandown. He looks like he will really relish the step up to this marathon trip and the form potentially has some reasonable substance with Give Me A Copper – current favourite for the Ultima at Cheltenham – in behind.
The other one I want to be on the right side of is the fast-improving ANGE DES MALBERAUX who is currently four from five starts over fences for his new trainer Dan Skelton.
Ange Des Malberaux has to defy another 10lbs hike in the weights here, but he only carries 10st 5lbs around the track and is another that will enjoy the faster going.
After a comfortable win in the 3m 3f Lincolnshire National on Boxing Day, Ange Des Malberaux barely came off-the-bridle on his next start to win a Class 4 Handicap Chase at Warwick on good-soft ground.
He faces much stiffer opposition here, but it’s hard not to be impressed with his progression over fences and it’s possible that he could still be ahead of the handicapper.
At 12/1, Ange Des Malberaux’s a nice price as he looks a good staying-prospect and completes our two selections.
1pt each-way Kimberlite Candy @10/1, 14:40 Newcastle, Saturday (1/5 odds, five places with Betfair)
1pt each-way Ange Des Malberaux @12/1, 14:40 Newcastle, Saturday (1/5 odds, five places with Betfair)