With £43,000 to the winner, the Eider remains a popular handicap chase. At four miles, one-and-a-half furlongs around Newcastle however it’s going to take some winning with these being the six horses we think have the best chance:
Paul Henderson brings this eight-year-old up from down south, looking to land his biggest pot to date. A winner of three of his last 5 races, Crossley Tender has continued to improve this season but after six runs this term and now tackling four miles plus around Newcastle, it’s easy to see him running out of puff.
The ground shouldn’t be a worry, but rider Tom O’Brien needs a change of luck having not won aboard any of his last 20+ mounts at the time of writing.
Caroline Bailey’s star is one of precious few who we know can handle this trip and track, in fact he won this race back in 2019.
He has improved since then and is in very good form, however his mark of 150 (135 when he won this) seems high and that has been apparent given that he has run second in all of his last four starts.
His weight then is the issue, but the major positive could be that if a horse such as this were suddenly to improve again to defy that apparent disadvantage, it is likely to be in extreme conditions such as these.
It may yet prove to be significant that champion jockey Brian Hughes has been booked to ride Cyclop by Matt Sheppard, and at first glance it’s easy to see why punters may back him.
On first inspection of his profile, he seemed to be the one. Experienced with 30 chases under his belt, he is getting better as he gets older and so shouldn’t prove to be badly handicapped as such. He has an excellent jumping record and stays very well, so there are numerous positives.
The only nagging doubt about Cyclop however was that he has had a busy season, he didn’t run well last time out and may perhaps just have gone over the edge a little.
Salty Boy makes the list as frankly, he does look to be a ‘top 6’ prospect. Only eight years old and without too much mileage behind him this season, he’s ultra-consistent and will almost certainly stay the trip better than most.
What’s not to like then? Well, despite being a young horse and lightly raced his form remains solid and consistent but without really showing much improvement. He is also 0/10 over fences despite some good runs, in fact the best he can boast from his ten chases is a couple of third-placed finishes. Brendan Powell rides for David Bridgwater.
Strictly on the numbers we got Sam’s Adventure very close with Cyclop, but there is a notable difference in the recent profiles of the two rivals.
Brian Ellison’s nine-year-old remains a definite improver. After winning his first chase last March, he took a big step forward this season when winning the Tommy Whittle in grand style. He returned to Haydock and was well backed against Gold Cup contender Royal Pagaille in the Peter Marsh, though we’ll never know how close he wouldn’t have got as he unseated at the 12th.
He was making smooth headway at that point and it may well be that had he stood up, he’d have been coming into his next race several pounds higher in the handicap so his yard can take advantage now as long as he stays under Henry Brooke which we think he will.
An eleven-year-old now, The Dutchman ran a career high as recently as December so he’s certainly not one to be described as being over the hill.
20/1 for the 2018 Grand National, it’s clearly felt that he can stay these distances but he’s been pulled-up over 3½ miles and unseated in the National, so we may not know if he truly does until he runs in this race.
There are plenty of unknowns here, but fairly solid as an each-way proposition is Crossley Tender who at double-figure prices may give a few punters some joy.
The two standout contenders for us however were Cyclop, who may just have tired out after a busy season and will have another tough race here, and Brian Ellison’s SAM’S ADVENTURE who gets the nod.
Geordie trainer Ellison understands perfectly what it takes to win at Newcastle and so riding instructions will have been delivered perfectly.