Portrait King – Eider Chase
The Eider Chase is a race that will be close to many a North-Easterner’s heart – it has nearly the same standing within Newcastle sporting folklore as the Northumberland Plate.
It is certainly a race that Newcastle-born Brian Ellison would dearly love to win, and the best of his three entries is probably Herdsman – who would have beaten Scotswell in the North Yorkshire Grand National six weeks ago, if it was run over 3m6f and a couple of yards, and not just the bare 3m6f.
Scotswell is entitled to run well too, but it might just be that the most value in the current market resides in his Scottish Borders National conqueror Neptune Equester, who is available at a massive 33/1 with Coral.
Being an ex-Ellison inmate it would be particularly galling for the Malton-based trainer should Neptune Equester win the Eider, as he was always viewed as that type of horse by Ellison, but went off the boil and has since switched to the yard of Sandy Thomson – who has worked wonders with a similar type of horse in Harry The Viking.
Rejuvenated by the Berwickshire air also, Harry The Viking so nearly beat the gallant Lie Forrit last weekend. While the same stable’s Seeyouatmidnight ran a belting reappearance in the Rendlesham Hurdle. In short, their horses are flying and Neptune Equester is still very well treated on a mark of 123 having been rated 138 at one stage. Should Shotgun Paddy run, then Neptune Equester would get in off a lovely weight of 10st 2lbs, with Derek Fox (who won on him at Kelso) already booked to ride and take off a further 3lbs.
The Eider has a particular corner in my heart too, as it was three years ago that I endured (!!) my stag party at this particular meeting, and watching Portrait King carry my cash to victory topped it off nicely.
The wheels fell off after that win but he has been coaxed back to form brilliantly by Maurice Phelan, and he attempts to regain his crown off just a 9lb higher mark, while suggesting that he is even better in his last two runs than the horse that landed the race in 2012. So at 12/1 with Paddy Power he is well worth backing now.
A mainly dry forecast means the ground at Kingston Park will be just on the soft side of good at worst, and so many that are prominent in the betting will be inconvenienced by that, notably last year’s winner Wyck Hill and current favourite Shotgun Paddy.
The ground will be just fine for Portrait King (who won on good in 2012) and Neptune Equester (who handles cut but his career best came at Haydock on good to soft), so securing 12/1 and 33/1 respectively now is a wise move.