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Betting Tips: Back To The Thatch can take to the Eider like a duck to water

FANS of marathon chases always get their fill at this time of year and they don’t come much more gruelling than tomorrow’s Betfred Eider Chase (2.45pm) at Newcastle. Just over four miles on heavy ground takes some getting and this race certainly isn’t for the faint-hearted.

The obvious starting point is Harry Whittington’s progressive chaser Vinnie Lewis, who is on a roll after bolting up at Sedgefield and Plumpton on his last two starts.

Stamina is his forte, while soft ground holds no fears, so he has to be on the shortlist, even though this is another step up the ladder.

He was winning off a mark of 113 two starts back and is now up to 136, which is a mighty hike and I just have to take him on at a best-priced 6/1 with Coral.

Sue Smith is always to be feared in contests like this and a case can be made for both her entries, Hainan and Smooth Stepper.

The former is a real slogger who will ways get their fill at this time be suited by this step up to four miles, while Smooth Stepper won well at much at this course earlier in the month but his stamina isn’t assured.

My first selection is BACK TO THE THATCH for the in-form Henry Daly team at 14/1.

He has only had four starts over fences and although that lack of experience is a concern in a race like this, he is completely unexposed over long distances.

Last time at Chepstow he was hugely impressive, proving that he is all about stamina.

Apart from a couple of small errors, he jumped and travelled really well and gets in here with just 10st 6lbs on his back.

Admittedly, he has history against him, as no six-year-old has ever won the Eider, but horses are trained differently these days and I think he can prove to be much better than a 129-rated chaser.

Since February 10th, Daly has had eight runners and five of them have won, while he also saddled a 40/1 second in the bumper at Doncaster on Wednesday, so the yard couldn’t be in better form. You always need to fire a couple of darts in a race like this and my other fancy is one with more experience, the 11-year-old HOUBLON DES OBEAUX.

Considering the ground has been so soft this winter, it’s been a disappointing season for his trainer Venetia Williams, whose string normally revel in the mud.

However, she landed last weekend’s Grand National Trial at Haydock with the previously out-of-form Yala Enki and she might just take another prize with this veteran.

The 11-year-old isn’t the horse he was, but it’s only two years since his demolition job in the Grade One Den- man Chase, while he also won a veterans’ chase on his reappearance at Sandown in November.

He might just outstay these and is a big price at 14/1 with Ladbrokes. Ruth Jefferson had a day to remember last Saturday with Waiting Patiently at Ascot and she can land another Saturday winner with KELKA in the preceding Betfred Super League Novices’ Chase (2.10pm).

This mare won a hurdle on heavy ground at Newcastle last season and travelled really well on her chasing debut at Catterick before understandably getting tired on her first start since April.

That will have blown away the cobwebs and she will be hard to beat.

POINTERS TOMORROW

Kelka 2.10pm Newcastle

Back To The Thatch e/w 2.45pm Newcastle

Houblon Des Obeaux e/w 2.45pm Newcastle

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