Eider Chase Tips: Taz to strike for Pipe at Newcastle

The Eider Chase is the feature race at Newcastle this weekend.
The Eider Chase is the feature race at Newcastle this weekend.

A competitive field of staying handicap chasers will head to Newcastle on Saturday afternoon for the Eider Handicap Chase, and our man Steve Chambers previews the north east marathon...

Fergal O'Brien's Petite Power has been one of the most progressive, consistent staying handicap chasers this season and the 11-year-old will attempt to continue to blossom over long distances in Saturday's Eider, where he currently jousts for favouritism. 

However, now at a mark of 130, the veteran may well be in the handicapper's grip. Upped for wins at Cheltenham and Uttoxeter, he could then only finish second at Exeter and was well beaten by Grand National hope Kimberlite Candy in Warwick's Classic Chase off a mark of 131. Dropped 1 lb, the brave, dour stayer is entitled to be a prominent figure in the betting, but he could continue to struggle off his current mark and while stamina isn't an issue, he may just prove vulnerable to an improver.

David Pipe saddled Comply Or Die to victory in the 2008 Eider before the Pond House handler masterminded his progression to win a Grand National, but while his contender here Hugo 'n Taz may not reach those dazzling heights, the nine-year-old has to be a major player on Saturday.

A winner on his first start for Pipe following the switch from Denis Hogan's yard, Hugo 'n Taz  pulled clear by four lengths in Market Rasen's Lincolnshire National at Market Rasen on Boxing Day, and an 8 lb rise in the handicap may well not be enough to stop his progression. He relished the soft ground that day and while the Eider will be another step up in trip, he shaped like he could improve yet again for another hike in distance. He will need to kick on from that Market Rasen success, but he could well just be capable of finding more and has to be the one to beat.

Dan Skelton's Very First Time finished fourth behind Hugo 'n Taz in December, but roared back to form next time around at Doncaster with a four lengths success. He has been handed a 7 lb rise by the handicapper for that win on Town Moor, but it's hard to see him reverse the form with Hugo 'n Taz and the extreme distance of four miles plus at the weekend may just see him falter in the closing stages.

The Olly Murphy-trained Calipso Collonges was last seen chasing home Lord Du Mesnil in the Tommy Whittle Handicap Chase, which now looks like a useful bit of form withe latter running a mighty race in last weekend's Grand National Trial. He has been upped 3 lb for that run, but he showed that day that he can handle testing ground, which he is likely to get at the weekend, so has to come into calculations.

Fourth in the Welsh Grand National, Prime Venture hasn't tasted victory since 2017 and he was beaten at odds-on last time out at Exeter, but with stamina most certainly his forte the Evan Williams-trained contender can't be completely discounted, despite having the burden of top weight.

Harry Fry's Over To Sam is a very lightly-raced nine-year-old, but heads into this contest on the back of a taking win at Plumpton last month. He beat Colin Tizzard's Christmas In April that day, and the pair are set to lock horns once again here. Only given a 3 lb rise for that success, Over To Sam could be open to improvement and he should certainly frank that form with Tizzard's charge, so Fry's contender is another that will be on the vicinity.

Of the others, Donna's Delight was a winner last time out at Ayr in heavy ground and is entitled to take his chance on Saturday, but Sandy Thomson's runner is 6 lb higher in the handicap for the weekend contest and having not beaten much at Ayr then it's hard to fancy him. Shanroe Santos is an eye-catching runner as his mark of 131 is 1 lb lower than his last winning mark, so if Lucy Wadham's challenger can get back to his best then has to be considered. The experienced 11-year-old is a former Southern National winner, so if he can unearth some old fire in the belly then he is a likely player.

However, the Pipe team will be excited to unleash new recruit Hugo n' Taz in the Eider Chase, and with more progression likely to come at Newcastle then he could well just be a cut above his rivals and claim victory in the race.


Eider Chase - Newcastle, Saturday 22nd February 2020 - back Hugo 'n Taz at 7/1


Eider Chase
Hugo 'n Taz silk

Hugo 'n Taz

Impressive when winning the Lincolnshire National at Market Rasen on Boxing Day, Hugo 'n Taz shaped like he could be a real progressive performer over marathon distances for David Pipe this season, and the Pond House inmate can follow up that Christmas success with a win in the Eider Chase at Newcastle.

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