A busy month of sport came to an end for me in the North East as the weather which at the beginning of the week threatened the possibility of this fixture going ahead, thankfully a mix of sun and some tough wind made things possible plus the excellent ground staff who moved rails and did everything they can which ensured the 2014 Eider Chase went ahead.
The Eider is the third longest steeplechase in the calendar and in this neck of the woods the second longest race behind the Great North Run, I bet if Mo Farah and Tirunesh Dibaba watched this race they would think they have the better of the races with the roads of Gateshead and South Shields probably seem to be much easier to negotiate rather than the gruelling 4m1f on normally Heavy going added in the mix more than two dozen fences to leap over.
This afternoon was a seven race card in tough conditions for both horse and rider with occasional long intervals as they passed the judge,out on the course the first hurdle in the back straight and the middle steeplechase fence were bypassed in all races due to ground conditions.
1.50 Betfred Racing Follow Us On Facebook Novices Chase,Class 2,3m,17 fences,5yo+
Just the four bit only three had a chance and it was a pre birthday gift for trainer Sue Smith as Pinerolo just got the better of Bucking The Trend in a driving finish from Ryan Mania by half a length,leading early he was headed down the back but rallied up the straight to get in front where it mattered,he is a typical Sue Smith horse and will be aimed at the big Northern staying chases next season,Bucking The Trend probably wants dropping down a bit while the short priced favourite Edmund Kean travelled and jumped ok before making a hash at the second last,he is better than this and one to keep an eye on next season in handicaps.
2.20 Betfred Win Gold Cup Tickets On Facebook Handicap Hurdle,Class 2,2m,8 flights,4yo+ (0-137)
A wide open looking handicap with plenty in with chances on paper,Kudu Country set the early pace until getting headed halfway then he faded,at the business end a few were in with a chance turning for home but it was Yorkist who bounced back to winning ways after his recent blip in the County Hurdle Trial at Musselburgh, raised 15lb so far he will go up again from his rating of 130 so he will have to run in the bigger contests, if he doesn’t go the Festival then I would imagine seeing him end up in the Scottish Champion Hurdle and even the Swinton at Haydock in May.
Mojolika was second and ran an honest race,Ubaltique was after a hat trick and travelled well until finding a lack of pace when needed,he will be better on an easier surface,Angelot Du Berlais came here after a recent spin at Wolverhampton,place in the pack in the Fred Winter last year he still remains open to improvement
2.55 Betfred Eider Chase,Class 2,4m1f,23 fences,5yo+ (0-150)
A total of sixteen set out for this,amazing none were taken out as seems to be the norm on big race Saturday handicaps on the telly!
This was a tough race,not as the one a few years ago when only two got round but it was still hard work for horse and jockey in this famous long distance steeplechase.
Relax for the inform Venetia Wiliiams stable was up with the early pace until getting headed going down the back on the final lap,he was soon passed by the pelaton and pulled up before the fifth last,at the business end we had five in with a chance as they turned for home Wyck Hill under Tom Scudamore led a 1-2 for JP McManus as he just got the better of Smoking Aces in a thrilling finish after the best part of four miles, Carrying 11-0 he benefited from his rest after a poor run in the Welsh National over Christmas, in the National he has 9-10 as his weight in at number 96 so it’s possible that Fairyhouse or Ayr would be the main options for him.
Smoking Aces ran a gallant race in defeat,he may head to Uttoxeter unless this run leaves a mark on him,Ballypatrick was held up early and plugged on,Safran De Cotte gave his best,Seven Woods was making up ground at the end and has a race in him,Junior is probably better off being retired unless he goes in Veterans Chases,Relax didn’t stay,Financial Climate never got going and Sun Cloud was going well until falling at the 15th.
Below, Wyck Hill comes back in.
3.25 Betfred Goals Galore Novices Hurdle,Class 3,2m6f,11 flights,5yo+
Just three finished in an incident packed race which went the way of Riverside Theatre’s half brother The Ramblin Kid for Jason Maguire riding for Micky Hammond,an ex bumper horse for Charlie Swan in Ireland this was his second start in the UK after a fair third at Wetherby behind behind David Pipes well regarded Red Sherlock who won at Cheltenham on Trials Day, a tough horse he stayed on really well here and will be a decent chaser in time and could be next aimed at one of the spring festivals depending on what the handicapper says about it.
Ivy Gate was the runner up but looks like a horse who runs well in defeat,Panama Petrus is still a bit novicey at his hurdles and was soon waving the white flag, Getabuzz fell heavily at the third last but soon got up after being a bit winded,Romany Ryme also fell when tired.
3.55 Betfred Racing’s Biggest Supporter Novices’ Hurdle,Class 4,2m,8 flights,4yo+
An easy win and some good riding here by James Reveley who has ridden in France a fair few times and did what most jockeys in hurdles at Auteuil do and went down the outside going down the back for fresh ground and this paid off as Dark Dune put in a polished performance to gain a first win over hurdles on his fifth start, rated 113 he will be sent into handicaps now, Island Heights an ex pointer want 2m4f+ and will be found that soon, Ride The Range was a distant third and will be better when he gets a rating.
Lyric Street looked ok for a place until falling at the last,he likes to bowl along,maybe a little novice or handicap at Bangor or Cartmel will suit him.
4.30 Betfred TV Handicap Chase,Class 3,2m4f,15 fences,5yo+ (0-135).
A well timed ride by amateur Kit Alexander here on Wicklow Lad who came down the outside to lead over the final fence getting the better of 11yo Consigliere by 2.75 lengths with the mare Fentara the same distance back in third spot.
This was a decent enough race,the winner will be kept on the go no doubt as he always runs a solid race,Consigliere was going and jumping well and deserves a win soon,Fentara probably found this trip to short and she will be better over Three Miles which is her best trip.
Below, Wicklow Lad.
5.00 Betfred Goals Galore Extra Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race,Class 6,2m,4,5,6yo
A one two here for ex pointers as Grove Silver quickened away under Sean Quinlan to give One For Arthur a 5 length thrashing,back in third was recent Wetherby debutant Pithivier.
A lot to like about the winner,trained by Jennie Candlish he would probably go to the Aintree bumper on National day unless he tried to defy a penalty in a normal one but I would keep an eye on him over hurdles next season this 5yo should have a bright future and could be the successor to stable stalwart Cross Kennon time.
One For Arthur trained by Lucinda Russell is another who is a stayer in the making,he will end up starting off next season over hurdles at places like Carlisle,Perth,Kelso and Hexham,he has a good future.
Pithivier probably was unsuited by the ground but is still learning the game.
A nice albeit cold afternoon at Newcastle then for the Eider Chase.
The conditions were very testing with the horses having to give everything to battle to the line,while not as gruesome as Haydock last week it was still hard work,thankfully all came home safe and sound.
Staying Chases are always the most difficult of races for any horse to win and today we saw a fine piece of riding by Tom Scudamore on Wyck Hill,I doubt he will get the chance to line up at Aintree being so far down,it is early days though but it’s good to see that potentially trainer David Bridgwater has two live contenders for the National and Gold Cup in Wyck Hill and The Giant Bolster.
After this I’ve no racing till mid March so hope to fill the gaps with some local non league football.