A racing club and a group of friends from a West Midlands pub are dreaming of glory in the £80,000 Vertem Eider Chase at Newcastle on Saturday.
Hugo ‘N Taz, who won the Lincolnshire National at Market Rasen on Boxing Day for the Value Racing Club, and the Black Horse Hotel’s Calipso Collonges are both among the market leaders for the marathon feature over almost four and a quarter miles.
James Couldwell, who runs Value Racing, is rightly expecting a big run from their nine-year-old, who made a dream debut in the racing club’s colours at Christmas after being snapped up at Goffs Doncaster Sales in August for £19,000.
— Value Racing Club (@ValueRacingClub) January 28, 2020
“He loves heavy ground, he’s built like a tank and has feet like dustbin lids,” says James. “It’s just a case of whether he will stay the extreme trip, but all the other fancied runners are in the same boat.
“We had other plans after Market Rasen but they didn’t work out so I’m hoping it’s fate that’s led us to Newcastle,” he explains. “We planned to run in the Surrey National at Lingfield but that was abandoned, and had decided to go to Carlisle last Monday instead for a handicap chase but that was off as well.
“The Eider was always in our minds but in previous years we would have struggled to get in off our rating of 120 so we hadn’t made it a priority. After the Carlisle meeting fell to the weather we decided to go for it because we knew we would definitely get in without being out of the handicap.”
Hugo ‘N Taz, who is trained in the West Country by David Pipe and cost shareholders little more than £1,000 each to buy him, had been on James’s wish list for well over two years before he was finally able to buy him at Goffs.
The Value Racing Club is no stranger to success at a high level, having won an Imperial Cup with the Dr Richard Newland-trained Ebony Express in 2015 and finishing second in the Eider two years ago with West Of The Edge.
Meanwhile, Olly Murphy says he may well be celebrating in the Black Horse at Bridgnorth on Saturday night if Calipso Collonges wins the Eider for his owners. “He goes into the race in great shape and will love the conditions. The only doubt is the trip but if he stays he will run a big race,” he adds.
“He was a cheap horse so to be going to such a big race as the Eider with a leading chance is amazing. Horses like him don’t come around very often – he’s improved from a rating of 94 to 130 in a short space of time – so he means the world to the lads involved.”
The Black Horse Hotel syndicate approached Murphy at Uttoxeter soon after he began training and have been loyal owners ever since, visiting the yard every month. Come Saturday, the drinks will surely be on them if Calipso Collonges claims the glory.