No ducking the Eider
Always a race I look forward to, although it usually ends up as a war of attrition, the Eider chase comes round once again at Newcastle. It used to be seen as a stepping-stone to the Grand National but that doesn’t seem to be the case these days. Looking back through previous winners some famous old names feature in the roll of honour. Wyndburgh, Highland Wedding, Forest King and Peaty Sandy jump…pun intended …. off the page. Two less well-known names, but of interest to me, are Scarlet Letch in 1974 trained by Bobby Brewis who kept a small but effective string in Northumberland. His colours of yellow with a black hoop were carried by some talented northern chasers. What caught my eye was that Scarlet Letch was ridden by Phil Mangan an Irish lad who after his career was over finished up running the Green Dragon pub in Carlisle, not remarkably interesting I know unless you are from a certain vintage and a local of Newtown, but these musings take some writing! Domaine de Pron the winner in 1998 also stood out. I was at the track and had backed this lad when he got up to win after a hard race but unfortunately collapsed and died after passing the post. Your emotions run full circle from sadness for the gallant horse to wondering if connections need a hand to get the saddle off and weigh in. The joys and otherwise of punting.
Selection: 3:15 Newcastle: Vertem Eider Handicap Chase
This year’s renewal doesn’t look as classy as some others but will still be a test in the soft ground. Four miles plus is a slog even on good ground and Newcastle is a tough track. There are usually a few runners in with a chance coming into the straight but the last couple of furlongs sorts the non-stayers out. In these types of races sticking with proven distance form isn’t a bad rule so I think last year’s winner Crosspark is the one to be on. He’s up 15lbs from last season’s winning mark but he has earned the rise with some consistent performances. A couple of inform horses are lurking at the bottom of the weights Strong Economy and Little Red Lion but both are out of the handicap so I will leave them for another day.
Selection – 3:35 Kempton: Close Brothers Handicap Chase
The other good chase on Saturday is at Kempton a grade three over 3miles.A competitive field of eighteen has been declared so it should be an open betting race. The Nicholls’, Tizzard, Tom George and Mulholland yards are all doubly represented and that complicates things.
Some well thought of shrewdies were on Olly Murphy’s The Butcher Said last time out when he travelled like the winner into the straight at Doncaster but faded disappointedly into sixth. In the hope that the better ground and his recent wind operation has done the trick I will give The Butcher Said one more chance to get his head in front. As long as the big hitters don’t steam in again, he should be around 12/1 come race time.
1. The Butcher Said
Sorry to end on a sad note but this week saw the death of Sandy Barclay. Readers or the other reader more accurately who were punting in the late sixties will remember Barclay as the rising star of northern racing. For whatever reason he never fully fulfilled the potential his precocious talent had promised. A couple of years in the full glare of Newmarket were followed by years in the relative wilderness. Always a shame when a memory from years ago hovers into view with a sad ending …. but Spring is on the horizon and Cheltenham’s just round the corner….so its not all doom and lockdown.
Enjoy the weekend.
Again, good luck throughout the winter. If you’re interested in racehorse ownership, take a look at the syndicate’s available shares.