Racing: Simply the best bet for First National

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The Independent Online
The former National Hunt jockey Steve Smith Eccles (right) gives a runner-by runner analysis of today's First National Bank Gold Cup Chase.

Simply Dashing: Beat subsequent Murphy's winner, Senor El Betrutti, by 15 lengths on his reappearance. Although he carries joint-top weight he has an outstanding chance.

Or Royal: His connections were a little greedy to expect him to win the Cathcart Chase at Cheltenham just 48 hours after taking the Arkle. Martin Pipe can be relied upon to have the horse fit but he was three lengths behind Simply Dashing at Ascot last season.

Stately Home: Winner of 10 races last season, he is only small but has taken to fences like a seasoned handicapper. Should give a good account but on recent form has it all to do.

Jeffell: The Irish raider is big and genuine and loves to bowl along in front. There is a question mark over his fitness.

Greenback: Ran in a handicap hurdle at Ascot last time but I am not convinced that a right-hand track suits him as he has a tendency to jump left.

Fine Thyne: Guaranteed to be 100 per cent after a winning seasonal debut at Stratford, beating Monks Soham by eight lengths. Could fight it out for one of the places.

Around The Gale: The softer the ground the better, but his only winning form last year was at Bangor and this is Premiership stuff.

Wild West Wind: Fourth in the Cathcart at the Cheltenham Festival, but reservations about his fitness as this is sure to be run at a cracking pace.

Frazer Island: Made a winning reappearance at Chepstow but cannot afford the same mistake that he made at the second last in that event.

Redeemyourself: Lightly raced and has obviously had training problems. I will be very surprised if he makes the frame.

Monks Soham: Geoff Hubbard loves having runners in big races and wins a few, too. Not this time, though.

Conclusion: Fine Thyne and Frazer Island can give a good account of themselves off decent handicap marks, but I expect class to tell. SIMPLY DASHING and Or Royal have it between them, but Tim Easterby's raider from the North can again put the Pipe runner in his place, even though his beating of Senor El Betrutti may be flattering.

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