Alan got his week off to the best possible start with both selections going in, today he has picks from Newcastle and Kempton....
"he has won from higher marks in the past so is not being asked to do anything he hasn't achieved before and hehas been laid out specifically for this race."
If anyone deserves to win the Eider Chase then it is Emma Lavelle's Shotgun Paddy, he was sent off the 11/2 favourite for the 2015 renewal and then finished second in this race off 7lb higher than today's mark last year. Despite running well in defeat he has slid down the handicap to a very winnable weight today. Today's renewal will take plenty of stamina, there has been plenty of rain falling in Newcastle earlier in the week and while Friday was a drying day, the ground is still currently declared as soft, heavy in places. Should anymore rain fall then it won't do his chances any harm as Emma Lavelle says in this short video message on twitter (https://twitter.com/NewcastleRaces/status/834821113989447680).
He's a solid stayer and he deserves to win one of thee big chases because he's knocked on the door in so many of them. While he hasn't won since 2014 he has won from higher marks in the past so is not being asked to do anything he hasn't achieved before and he has been laid out specifically for this race and with the Lavelle yard hitting a 25% strike rate in the last fourteen days there are plenty of good reasons to expect a huge run again this afternoon.
With just one winning favourite in the last ten years this is always a very competitive chase but it generally goes to a decent horse and Three Musketeers would be a worthy winner. Trainer Dan Skelton is in decent form and Three Musketeers won well last time out at Market Rasen by three lengths from Kilcrea Vale. He has only received a 2lb rise for what a appeared a pretty easy victory so it looks like the handicapper has been lenient. Harry Skelton was quoted as saying after that victory "It's nice to get him back on track and there's a good race to be won with him. The step up in trip and soft ground has suited him", which makes his first run over three miles here all the more interesting.
Champion trainer Paul Nicholls saddles the current market favourite Irish Saint, he was off the course for a long time between April 2015 and November 2016. On his return he went over hurdles at Cheltenham which blew away a few cobwebs and followed that with a sixth over fences at Ascot. The worry for me though is the trip, he ran at Sandown over three miles and while he traveled well before weakening close home to finish third, there has to be a question mark over whether he stays this trip. He has never won over further than two miles five, I much prefer Three Musketeers to make the frame at least this afternoon.
2017 Overall (prior to this week): +6.95 pts
This week so far...
Staked: 2 pts
Returned: 6.00 pts