The £80,000 Eider Chase is our focus this week, one of Newcastle’s premier jumps races.
There are 26 fences to take at Gosforth Park as the field is tasked with seeing out this gruelling four-mile, one-and-a-half-furlong trip with the event potentially as hard to win for us punters as it is for the trainers and jockeys!
That being said, even in testing conditions quality, class and some help from the handicapper can see the cream rise, these six horses being the standouts for us:
Nigel Twiston-Davies sends this eight-year-old north and he comes into the race as a last-time-out winner.
His success at Fontwell over almost 3½ miles shows that he stays well enough, though it was just a four-runner affair and he had to battle all the way to the line to get the job done.
He’s 2lbs higher in the handicap now, back to the same mark he was at when running fifth in the Silver Cup at Ascot, and four lower than when plodding home to be a distance third to Snow Leopardess in the Becher Chase.
There is lots to recommend Michael Scudamore’s horse in this race, definitely more than certain runners listed at shorter prices in the ante-post market.
Court Master has been placed in eight of 13 chases so far, winning five of them, scored on soft ground on only his second start over fences and last time out won on this track over three miles in very easy fashion.
He’s been raised only 2lbs for his win around here 25 days ago, due probably to the fact that it was against only two rivals, but there was nothing wrong with his performance at all given that he jumped well throughout, made all and made it look like a training exercise.
One of the favourites in the build-up to the race is Danilo D’Airy who comes into the Eider with an unbeaten record over fences.
Robert Bevis’ nine-year-old is three from three now in chases, improving in lumps each time and always scoring when the word ‘soft’ has been in the going description.
He has an extra mile to cover here versus his latest win at Ffos Las, but he appears to be a stayer. What we have to work out it is, despite appearing to be improving quickly, whether or not a 15lb rise for winning a weaker race is enough to finally stop him over an extreme distance such as this.
Domaine De L’Isle
Another well-fancied runner and short in the market in the days before this race has been Domaine De L’Isle, which might be a tip in itself.
It’s worth keeping in mind that Sean Curran’s runner was pulled-up on his seasonal reappearance at 16/1 and was beaten 22 lengths when 66/1 for the Becher after that.
But he was just 6/1 in the market when he landed a 3¼-mile handicap chase at Cheltenham in April and it is clearly believed that his fourth-placed finish in the Becher has put him spot-on for a tilt at this event.
The combination of Emma Lavelle and Tom Bellamy is a strong one and their names being attached to this horse probably accounts for a point or so of his price in the market.
It’s not as though Éclair Surf isn’t a deserved market principal though. A winner of three of his 8 chases so far, he has done his scoring on very soft ground which says as much about his stamina as it does about his underfoot preference.
He beat 14 good rivals in the Classic Chase at Warwick last time out, in great style too, and despite being moved up 10lbs in the handicap simply has to have a major should considering he brings in the very best form.
Innisfree Lad is a ten-year-old now but he clearly still has ability.
In fact, his best chasing performance arguably came just two runs ago when he demolished a handicap chase field at Plumpton over 3¼ miles and it could be that at this stage, four miles plus is what he wants.
He stayed the trip well enough in fact in the Borders National not too long ago, though his latest win has meant a 7lb rise in the handicap for having beaten fellow veterans.
A typically tough renewal of the Eider, but one that can go the way of DANILO D’AIRY for the Robert Bevis yard. Although he pulled-up over hurdles last time, he remains unbeaten over fences and has plenty more to offer. Éclair Surf was next on the list.