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Attritional staying test lies ahead for final field of 12 in Eider Chase

A general view of racegoers at Gosforth Park during Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle Racecourse, Newcastle.

12 runners were declared this morning for the 68th running of the Eider Chase at Newcastle. This fixture is one of the more prestigious held at Gosforth Park and is thought of as one of the key trials for the Grand National. You would have to go back to 12 years to find Comply Or Die who was the last horse to complete that big race double.

He won the 2008 renewal on good to soft ground off top-weight, though conditions are set to be the polar opposite of that on Saturday with the going currently described by Clerk Of The Course James Armstrong as “Heavy, Soft in places”.

Other memorable recent winners of the contest include the white-faced Merigo. The white-faced Kate Walton-trained gelding seemingly had no chance against the smooth-travelling Morgan Be when the pair drew 37-length clear of the rest of the field up the home straight. With just half a furlong to go, Timmy Murphy (who became the first jockey to win this race in successive seasons for 31 years) astonishingly managed to galvanise his mount to get up in the shadows of the post.

Calipso Collonges, trained by the up and coming Olly Murphy, is the current 6-1f for this years renewal. He posted an improved effort in similar conditions when runner-up at Haydock last time out, but as the betting suggests this looks a competitive race on paper with all of the runners in with some sort of chance.

Dave Armstrong, a passionate owner and supporter of racing in the North-East is represented by Donna’s Delight, who will don the famous black and white stripes of Newcastle United.

He said: “We expect a big run on Saturday, he’s bred for it and his full brother came 4th & 2nd in the race so going on current form/track/going/trip he has every chance. We targeted this race for Dino (Donna’s Delight) three years ago.”

When asked if this was a sub-standard renewal of the race, he said: “(It is) because of the nature of the race and trainers know that if they run there 150-rated horses that’s them for the season. Ground, track and trip will not suit a lot of horses either.”

Gates open at noon, with the first race of the day at 1.35pm before action concludes at 5.00pm. It is set to be a blustery afternoon with a mixture of sunny spells and scattered showers.