Thomson eyeing Eider prep for National hope Hill Sixteen

Sun 29 Jan 2023

Sandy Thomson is plotting a potential route to the Randox Grand National via the Eider Chase with Hill Sixteen.

The tough staying chaser has not run since finishing seventh to Ashtown Lad in the Becher Chase at Aintree in early December.

His Berwickshire handler saw the 10-year-old drop 2lb in the handicap to a mark of 143, which should be a high enough mark to see Court Cave gelding slip into the National off a low weight.

Thomson is keen to protect that mark and said: “Obviously, we want to go for the National, so on 143, we couldn’t really run him again.

“We thought he would go for the Grand National Trial, but this year it so happens that the Grand National Trial is before the National weights are published.

“So it will either be the Eider (at Newcastle on February 25) – but if it was really soft you might not want to give him a really hard race in that – or it will be the Premier Chase at Kelso (March 4).”

Hill Sixteen was runner-up to Snow Leopardess in the Becher Chase, a recognised National trial, in December 2021, so has plenty of experience over the unique spruce-topped fences.

However, Thomson insists that any thoughts of a run in the extended four-and-a-quarter-mile April 15 spectacular will be dependent on plenty of rain.

“It’s got to be wet enough for him,” said Thomson. “The way these (dry) Aprils have been going recently, we are bound to get a wet one soon.”

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