Cromwell wary of big weight for 'Raz'
Gavin Cromwell is not too keen on Raz De Maree carrying a big weight in Saturday's Betfred Eider Chase at Newcastle.
The 11-year-old, which was second to Native River in the Welsh National and is ante-post favourite for this weekend's extended four-mile marathon, has been left second on the list at the five-day stage.
"He ended up finishing closer to Native River than looked likely at one stage and I'm not sure if it flattered us or not, but that's where he finished," said Cromwell.
"That day we could have done with a little more rain to turn it into a proper test, so I hope the forecast rain materialises this week. The one thing I wouldn't want is for him to carry a big weight as he's only a small horse, so I'll have to have a good think.
"Our big aim is Aintree, so I don't want to pull the guts out of him this weekend."
Perfect Candidate will not run in the Eider. Having made amends for a disappointing effort on his penultimate run in the Cotswold Chase when winning a veterans' chase at Exeter earlier this month, Fergal O'Brien's Grand National hope could now head straight to Aintree or possibly have a run over hurdles.
"He won't go to Newcastle," said O'Brien. "We've left Viva Steve in the race and we'll have a look at it with him, but Perfect Candidate doesn't need to go. Whether he runs again before Aintree, I'm not sure. We might give him a spin over hurdles just to freshen him up, we'll see."
With no Perfect Candidate, Baie Des Iles, winner of a Grand National trial at Punchestown, has been left at the head of the weights for Ross O'Sullivan and Katie Walsh.
Sue Smith has left in Straidnahanna and Smooth Stepper, with the Emma Lavelle-trained Shotgun Paddy, runner-up last year, on course for the race once more.
Emperor's Choice, Goulanes, Milborough, Mountainous and Portrait King have all proved themselves over extreme distances in the past.
Out Sam, Alto Des Mottes, Milansbar and Streets Of Promise are also among the 29 left in.
Meanwhile, Kempton specialist Tea For Two is top of the 20 confirmations for the BetBright Chase at the track on Saturday.