Vertem Eider Handicap Chase
Date of Tips: 23/02/2021
Disclaimer The odds for these selections were correct at the time of publishing (10:47 23/02/2021) but may have changed since. Please check the latest price before placing your bet.
One of three iconic races held at the Gosforth Park venue, (the others being the Fighting Fifth and the Northumberland Plate), the Eider Chase is a race like no other.
A race like no other and indeed this year, a race unlike itself. An extra furlong and an extra fence have been added to the start of the race, in an attempt to slow the early tempo slightly by having a longer run and an extra jumping test before the field take the first bend. This would sound counter intuitive to the majority, but even over the extreme trip of the (now) 4m 1¼f, an early position and rhythm is vitally important. This change may temper riders’ enthusiasm to rush into the first fence and subsequent bend.
One such horse who is tailormade for the race, whatever the likely distance, is Crosspark – I know this because he won the race in 2019. Some say my genius knows no limits!
At 6/1 with Sky Bet or BetVictor, he rates as a very solid each-way proposition at this early stage, to regain his Eider crown at 3.15 on Saturday.
There are currently 16 entries, and a handful have other options later in the week. While surely the likes of Friends Don’t Ask (27lbs out of the handicap) and a few above him would not want to run if the top weight (Crosspark himself) turns up, as they would be significantly poorly treated at the weights.
It is Crosspark’s presence off top weight that defines the race, as he is very much the class horse in the race and you should never be put off backing top weights in staying handicaps, even those run over 4m+. Class is far more important than weight in my view.
Given that Crosspark only potentially has to take on two rivals rated in the 140’s and four in the 130’s, with the rest languishing at 128 or lower, it is his ability to travel along at a pace one or two notches above his rivals here, that will mean (top weight) or otherwise, he will have more inherent ability left to display at the business end of the race.
Interestingly, he won this race in 2019 on his fifth start of the campaign, before going on to finish a mighty second in the Scottish National on his next start. A barren 2019/20 season, meant he had something to prove entering this season as a rising 11-year-old.
Prove himself he has done, with a string of four runner-up finishes in two high quality veteran’s chases, the London National, and then the Veteran’s Chase Final behind the rejuvenated and brilliant Seeyouatmidnight. The Eider on Saturday will be his fifth start of the current campaign, a pattern that works well for him clearly.
It is easily arguable that Crosspark enters the Eider picture this time around in the form of his life, and with a great opportunity to become only the third horse in history to win the race more than once, after Wyndburgh and Highland Wedding in the 1950’s and 1960’s.
Sean Bowen looks likely to take the ride with regular partner Harry Skelton required for his brother at Kempton Park, but Bowen has won on Crosspark before and rode him on his seasonal reappearance at Chepstow – he clearly knows the horse well.
At 6/1 with Sky Bet and BetVictor he is a good bet, and I while I do think he should and could be shorter come the day, plenty will want to take on a top weight in such a race, and there may still be mileage in his price nearer to or on the day. So, while I don’t envisage the price collapsing, he is worth supporting at any rate down to around 4/1.