Racing: The former top jump jockey Steve Smith Eccles analyses today's First Bank Chase

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The Independent Online
Northern Starlight: He's sure to be up with the pace and is a sound jumper. But I feel he is up against it at the weights with 11st 10lb as he is on the small side.

Chief's Song: Ran a good race when second here last time, but has more to do now.

Ashwell Boy: Won comfortably at Chepstow on reappearance, but I'm not convinced he enjoys a sustained battle. Has plenty of ability and Richard Dunwoody will bring the very best from him.

Listen Timmy: Won three of his four starts last season under Stephen Wynne. Tony Dobbin takes over. This fellow might be a little ring-rusty as he's having his first run of the season.

Dontleavethenest: Fell on his reappearance at Kempton - when he would have won - and he made up for it when winning at Ascot next time. Sure to run well if he gets this longer trip.

The Land Agent: Pulled up on his reappearance at Ascot, but had some useful form last season and could run well if he recaptures it.

Hurricane Lamp: An excitable sort. Sure to strip fitter for his recent run, although his stable is not firing on all cylinders yet.

Irbee: Winning point-to-pointer from a stable at its very best right now. Has taken well to regulation fences with wins at Worcester and Chepstow. An obvious chance if he jumps as fluently in this higher grade.

Red Marauder: Has won both his starts this term, but I am not convinced his jumping will stand up in a race which promises to be run at a breakneck pace.

Raleagh Native: Hard to assess as he's lightly raced. Won over fences at Market Rasen last year and won a hurdle race on his reappearance. A dark horse.

Skycab: On the evidence of his first two outings of the season he looks outclassed.

CONCLUSION: Jumping at speed is going to be the key with so many front- runners. There is a question mark over DONTLEAVETHENEST staying, but if he does then he's the one to be on. Kim Bailey's Raleagh Native is unexposed and could run into a place while Paul Nicholls is having a fantastic run and Irbee should not be far away.

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