Ballyculla can down Eider Chase rivals, Zaidiyn to deliver when dropping down
David Metcalf | February 26, 2016
Newcastle hosts the prestigious Eider Chase this Saturday, with this 4m contest proving a key trial for horses bound for the Grand National.
Ballyculla the one to beat in Eider Chase
Ballyculla has a progressive profile and looks the answer to a competitive renewal of the feature race (14.50).
The Warren Greatrex trained nine-year-old was a decent hurdler who put in some good performances over fences last season despite not getting his head in front.
They included solid efforts to finish runner-up at Chepstow and Exeter off a mark of 133, and Ballyculla was also far from disgraced when seventh of 17 to Cause of Causes in the 4m National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival off the same rating.
This gelding went on to round off the campaign with a good fifth of 19 to Gallant Oscar in a valuable contest at Punchestown, and finally got off the mark over fences when making a winning return to action at Bangor back in December.
Ballyculla jumped well and stayed on strongly to readily beat Take The Mick by two lengths, and scored with a bit more in hand than the winning margin suggests.
It was a performance which suggested Ballyculla was a staying chaser that needed keeping firmly onside, and a 4lb rise for that victory could well be on the lenient side.
A revised mark of 136 should not be beyond Ballyculla, especially as the son of Westerner remains unexposed and open to further progression after just seven starts over the larger obstacles.
Connections have also resisted the temptation to run him since Bangor and kept him fresh for this With the 4m trip holding no fears and ground conditions ideal, Ballyculla looks weighted to take all the beating.
Zaidiyn can cash-in on class drop
In the 2m handicap hurdle (14.20), Zaidiyn can take advantage of a drop in class to get back to winning ways.
The Brian Ellison trained gelding has run really well to finish placed in three of his last four starts, and caught the eye in the last of those at Musselburgh when fourth to Shrewd in the Listed class 1 Scottish County Hurdle.
After being held-up well off the pace, Zaidiyn made stealthy headway three from home and stayed on strongly after a mistake at the last to be beaten just three lengths.
The six-year-old would have finished much closer but for the final flight blunder, and it was an effort which suggested his time was near.
Zaidiyn is able to race in this lower grade class 2 contest off just 1lb higher, and that gives him major claims at the weights in what is a far less competitive affair lacking any real strength in depth.
14.20: Zaidiyn (NB)
14.50: Ballyculla (NAP)
15.25: Bun Doran
16.00: Knocklayde Sno Cat
16.35: Final Assault
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