Portrait King and Milborough back for more in Eider at Newcastle

Fri 24 Feb 2017

Two of the last four winners of the Betfred Eider line up once more at Newcastle on Saturday as Portrait King and Milborough face the starter in what is sure to be a gruelling race.

Trainer Ian Duncan is not worried about the conditions for Milborough, successful two years ago under Graham Watters, who is on board once again.

"He'll like the ground, there's no worry on that score," said Duncan.

"The only thing is the weights have gone up quite a bit with the Irish horses (Raz De Maree and Baie Des Iles) not running.

"It will make his task harder carrying more weight in the ground.He's in good form, though, and we know he stays the trip well.

"This has been his plan all season, it would be fair to say that.

"He ran in it last year, too, but was below par (seventh). He had an interrupted preparation then, though, whereas this year it has been smooth.

"We ran him over hurdles two weeks ago and that will have just put him spot-on.I'd say I'm cautiously optimistic."

Irish trainer Patrick Griffin brings over Portrait King, who won the race when with Maurice Phelan in 2012.

The 12-year-old runs off a 5lb lower mark than when a respectable sixth in the Becher Chase at Aintree in December.

"The horse is well and we hope it's as heavy as they say it is as he loves a real stamina test," said Griffin.

"He's won it before. He was also third last year so we know he likes it there.

"We had no travel issues. We did want to travel Thursday but because of the storm that was out of the question as it was a case of survival, not travel. It's all calmed down in time.

"His run in the Becher was good, so fingers crossed he puts his best foot forward once more."

Kim Bailey's Knockanrawley has not had much racing in the past two seasons but did finish fourth to Milborough two years ago.

He has only run twice since, most recently at Warwick in the Classic Chase behind one of the favourites for the Grand National in One For Arthur.

After a quiet spell, Bailey has been back among the winners in recent weeks.

"I was absolutely delighted with him at Warwick after so long off," said Bailey.

"He ran well in this race two years ago and hopefully he's retained all of his ability.If he has, most things are in his favour for him to run well."

Shotgun Paddy unseated when favourite in the year Milborough won the Eider, while he was second to Rocking Blues last season.

His trainer Emma Lavelle said: "He's no stranger to staying chases and he's no stranger to the Eider.This has been very much the target since Warwick when he ran well there.

"It's fantastic prize-money and we're hoping to take some of it home.

"He's a cool customer and a pleasure to train, you can do anything with him."

Milansbar was second in the Midlands National last season but after a bad experience in the Welsh National in December, he is on something of a retrieval mission for Neil King.

"He's got everything in his favour as he wants four miles and soft ground," said King.

"We could have done without the weights going up but he carried a similar weight in the Midlands National.

"We need him to get his season back on track, He ran well first time and I thought he was made for the Welsh National but he nearly slipped up on the flat and then made an early mistake.

"Then he ran when our horses weren't quite right but he's back in good form now and he worked well last week."

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