Betfred Eider Chase Preview – Saturday 24th February
Last updated: February 22, 2018 by Leon Marshal
The feature race at Newcastle on Saturday is the £80,000 Betfred Eider Chase over four miles. It is one of the longest races of the National Hunt season and the heavy going this weekend will put an even greater emphasis on stamina.
The Eider Chase is a recognised trial for the Aintree Grand National and Comply Or Die was successful in both races in 2008. Into The Red (1993) and Willsford (1995) were both Grand National stalwarts while 2009 winner Merigo was a two-time winner of the Scottish National at Ayr. Michael Scudamore trained Mysteree to win the race 12 months ago, beating Knockanrawley and Shotgun Paddy.
Vinnie Lewis favourite for Eider Chase
The ante-post favourite this year is Harry Whittington’s Vinnie Lewis, a seven-year-old gelding by Vinnie Roe. He will be having only his fifth start over fences and is on a hat-trick following victories at Sedgefield and Plumpton. He cruised home by 14 lengths at the northern venue before defying a rise of a stone in the weights to land the Sussex National. The winning margin was six lengths at Plumpton and the handicapper has pushed him up a further 9lbs. Vinnie Lewis appears to have bottomless stamina and is certain to relish the conditions on Saturday.
Daklondike is another progressive chaser with very few miles on the clock. He was a late withdrawal from the Grand National Trial at Haydock last weekend. David Pipe would not risk him in such a gruelling contest unless he was happy with his condition. He is 7lbs higher than when winning the Mandarin Chase at Newbury last time out.
Dr Richard Newland saddles West Of The Edge, a ten-year-old gelding by Westerner. He has won five on his nineteen races over fences, most recently in soft ground at Warwick last March. He ran well in defeat in heavy ground behind Emperor’s Choice at Haydock in December.
Hainan is also prominent in the betting for Sue Smith. The grey finished third to The Dutchman in the valuable Peter Marsh Chase, although the winner failed to advertise the form in last week’s National Trial. Hainan had previously won by 12 lengths in heavy ground so testing conditions will not worry him. Stable companion Smooth Stepper won over three miles here at the start of the month. He jumped boldly when seeing off Silver Tassie by four and a half lengths.
Bryony Frost retained for Milansbar
Neil King has secured the services of Bryony Frost for Milansbar after the combination won the Grade 3 Warwick Classic Chase. The eleven-year-old was revitalised by first-time blinkers that day, only having to be pushed out to beat Cogry by eleven lengths. He has gone up 9lbs but Frost can claim a useful 3lbs off his back.
Nicky Richards is represented by Baywing, the winner of just one of his seven races over the larger obstacles. He was a useful handicapper over hurdles but has not quite managed to transfer that level of form to steeplechasing. Baywing fell at Haydock in November and made mistakes in his subsequent defeats at Wetherby and Newcastle.
Chase The Spud saddled with top weight
Chase The Spud looks to have a difficult task with top weight of 11st 12lbs. He was fancied for the Welsh National at Chepstow in January but was pulled up before the fourth last when well behind. He battled on bravely to win the Midlands National in March but only had 10st 12lbs on his back that day.
Houblon Des Obeaux has performed well in big handicaps in the past, notably when runner-up to Many Clouds in the 2014 Hennessy Gold Cup. He was also placed in the Welsh National in 2016 and gained a well-deserved success in a Veterans’ Chase at Sandown last year. He still looks high enough in the weights for Venetia Williams.
Back To The Thatch has more scope than most in this field. He won a Chepstow handicap in heavy ground in January on his fourth run over fences. He has gone up 9lbs but is yet to race beyond three miles. Knockanrawley will bid to improve on last year’s third place but failed to complete the course at Haydock last month. He had previously finished over five lengths behind Daklondike at Newbury but will be 8lbs better off on Saturday. The best of the rest could be hat-trick seeking Themanfrom Minella, raised 7lbs for his latest triumph.
Eider Chase Betting Tips
Vinnie Lewis @6-1 Ladbrokes
Each-way ¼ odds, 1,2,3,4
The Betfred Eider Chase is due off at 2.45 at Newcastle on Saturday 24th February and will be televised live on ITV4.