Flintoff's warrior qualities merit respect
Even if many runners in Newcastle's Eider Chase (3.15) will cry 'enough' long before the finish, there's a gladiatorial element to a four-mile slog through the mud.
It would therefore be a shame if the venue fails to pass a morning inspection.
Belon Gale steps into the breach after making all to win over this trip at Hexham last time, but that was in lesser company. It's not ideal that he will be closely attended throughout by another free-running type in Giles Cross, which hunted up Synchronised in the Welsh National.
In the circumstances, I prefer the claims of the redoubtable Flintoff. An old warrior with a mind of his own, Flintoff will invariably deliver his mid-race sulk and drop back through the field.
But he is capable of finishing with a flourish -- as he did when he almost won the Midlands National on desperate ground two seasons back.
Venetia Williams has freshened Flintoff up with two recent runs over hurdles, and the way he performed most recently suggested he is running into form.
However, the best bet on the Newcastle card is Roi De Rose in the totesport.com handicap Chase (1.40).
A proven mudlark, Roi De Rose receives valuable weight from all but one of his six opponents. And subject to Chepstow passing a morning inspection, Voramar Two has attractive prospects in the Lindley Novices' Chase (2.55).
Silver Kate, which narrowly beat the selection over the course and distance last month, has since gone in again.