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Newcastle

  • 14:55 Betfred Eider 4m 1f

  • (Handicap Chase) £60,000 added 5yo+ 16 ran
  • Winner £37,140 2nd £11,028 3rd £5,514 4th £2,748
  • Going: Heavy (Soft in places home straight)
  • Surface: Turf
    Weighed In
  • Winning time: 9m 15.56s
  • Off time: 14:55:22

Jefferson expects tough task for Sun Cloud in Eider Chase

Last Updated: 21/02/14 12:03pm

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Wyck Hill (left): In contention for the Eider Chase

Wyck Hill (left): In contention for the Eider Chase

Trainer Malcolm Jefferson believes the handicapper has set Sun Cloud a difficult task as he chases a hat-trick in what promises to be an attritional renewal of the Betfred Eider at Newcastle on Saturday.

Trainer Malcolm Jefferson believes the handicapper has set Sun Cloud a difficult task as he chases a hat-trick in what promises to be an attritional renewal of the Betfred Eider at Newcastle on Saturday.

With the 16 runners set to tackle four miles and a furlong in ultra-testing conditions at Gosforth Park, the £60,000 contest is not going to be for the faint-hearted.

Sun Cloud has the right credentials, having followed up victory at Hexham with another dour staying performance in the North Yorkshire Grand National, but he has been raised almost a stone in the weights.

Jefferson said: "He's won his two races and even though they weren't strong races, he's gone up 22lb, which looks a lot to me. It will be a different story on Saturday

"Four miles will suit him and the ground will suit him, but I don't think the weight will.

"He's in good form going there, anyway."

Heading the weights for the prestigious contest is David Pipe's mercurial veteran Junior, a previous winner at Royal Ascot and at the Cheltenham Festival.

Mikey Ennis claims a valuable 7lb and the Pond House handler believes his 11-year-old is capable of making his presence felt if he is on a going day.

Pipe said: "Junior is Junior, but he ran a cracking race under top weight at Ffos Las last time.

"The trip and the conditions will suit him and he has won at Newcastle before in the big three-mile handicap (Rehearsal Chase). He is showing he's still capable of running well in these long-distance chases, so fingers crossed he gives a good account of himself."

Wyck Hill looked set for big things after handicap wins at Wetherby and Ascot last season, but has largely been disappointing since he was snapped up by leading owner JP McManus a year ago.

He has failed to make an impact in three starts this season, but trainer David Bridgwater would not be surprised to see him bounce back.

He said "He's in great form at home and working well, but, as we all know, these horses can make fools of you.

"He seems absolutely fine at home and we know he's a good horse, so we'd be expecting a big run.

"The track and the ground should suit him and he's come down the weights.

"I thought he was capable of winning off a good bit higher mark than this, so fingers crossed."

Our Island has fallen down the weights in the last year, but was not disgraced at Cheltenham last month.

Trainer Tim Vaughan has been targeting the Eider for a while.

"You would think everything should be in his favour," the Vale of Glamorgan handler told At The Races.

"He loves the soft ground and the trip shouldn't be a problem as he's proven over it.

"He's finished fifth in a Welsh National and a National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham so it should be perfect for him.

"He seems in good health with himself and has probably improved a fair bit. He needs a run or two and gets better as the season progresses.

"We haven't been hard on him this year. We've aimed him at this race and hopefully it will pay dividends for doing that."

Trainer Tom George is similarly hopeful conditions will bring out the best in Seven Woods.

He said: "You never really know until they tackle four miles for the first time, but we think he'll stay all day and he loves soft ground.

"We ran him over hurdles last time, which was probably a mistake, but there was nothing else to run him in.

Venetia Williams has been banging in the winners with regularity in the wet conditions and has a major contender in Sandown scorer Relax.

Brian Ellison's course winner Presented, the Donald McCain-trained Swatow Typhoon and Oliver Sherwood's Financial Climate also feature.

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