A race that is usually run in soft ground, this marathon test this time looks like suiting those with just a touch of pace about their game with the going described as good-to-soft on Friday and the sunshine not abating in Newcastle over the weekend.
The Eider is as competitive as always but with a few horses either perfectly suited by this test or even set to improve, we’ve taken a view that these six are the ones to take against the field:
Ange Des Malberaux – 9/1
Dan Skelton’s French-bred has been on the go for a little while now, racing through last spring and summer but after taking a couple of months off before this winter he seems fresh and crucially is improving hand over fist now chasing.
The nine-year-old is four from five over fences after an easy win at Warwick last time out and there is no telling when the handicapper will finally catch up with him. Critically in the context of this race, Ange Des Malberaux goes very well on better ground and looks as though he can take another step forward for a proper trip so all in all everything has fallen into place for him to give Bridget Andrews a sweet trip round.
Crosspark – 16/1
Other than being more experienced over fences, Crosspark has a similar racing profile to Ange Des Malberuax in that he likes decent ground, is still improving and most likely now wants this trip.
Unlike Dan Skelton’s horse though this nine-year-old does not have as much in hand given that his improvement has appeared more gradual and he’s finished fifth and third on his last two runs, though with conditions expected to suit a big run could be on the cards at a very attractive price.
Just Your Type – 7/1
Neither trainer Charlie Longsdon nor jockey Sean Quinlan have been in the winners at all over the last couple of weeks which has to temper enthusiasm for this horse somewhat, though as an improving 7yo with only three chases under his belt there could be plenty more to come from Just Your Type.
Despite falling two out, the gelding took a big step forward in his performance at Exeter last time out and it’s easy to draw the conclusion that he did so for not having to race on very soft ground, meaning conditions at Newcastle may help him in this race.
Potters Corner – 12/1
Another in the category of needing decent ground and a trip, Potters Corner ran well for a long way over 3m2f+ at Wincanton last time in the Somerset National and if showing no ill effects for his fall two from home he can go on again and put in an even bigger performance round here. Having been put up 5lbs by the handicapper though, he may not face the easiest task.
Progress Drive – 11/1
As an eight-year-old first time out after a wind operation and representing Nicky Richards and Brian Hughes, Progress Drive absolutely will be backed at what on Friday is a very attractive each-way price.
The only negatives here, notwithstanding the wind op which may draw out improvement, is that his form had flattened out over fences last year and his better runs were on deeper ground, but any significant move in the betting market on Saturday morning should be taken seriously.
Vicente – 6/1
As a crack Grand National and Scottish Grand National type (twice a winner at Ayr), Vicente undoubtedly has the class to take this and with Paul Nicholls in such a rich vein of form we cannot ignore the ten-year-old’s chances.
That said, he is a ten-year-old after all and he’s not the best handicapped in the world so despite liking the ground and the trip, he may be a little short in the market for each-way backers and he’d need close to a career best to win under Sean Bowen.
Vicente has everything needed to run another big one in a race of this type but his price is very short to be getting involved while Crosspark will need to take another step forward, though he could do so at much better odds.
The one for win purposes on the balance of things however looks to be ANGE DES MALBERAUX of Dan Skelton’s who has the profile of a horse that will love everything about this race and who should improve once more if getting a clean round in what is a competitive chase.