O’Sullivan targets Eider
Recent Punchestown Grand National Trial winner Baie Des Iles is among 56 entries for the Betfred Eider at Newcastle on February 25.
Baie Des Iles and Katie Walsh jump the last to win The racinguk.com/freetrial Grand National Trial Handicap Steeplechase at Punchestown.
As the weights for the Grand National will be out by the time the Gosforth Park marathon comes around, the four-mile contest is seen by some as the perfect stepping stone to Aintree, with Comply Or Die doing the double in 2008 for David Pipe.
That will not be possible for Ross O'Sullivan's charge, however, as the mare is only six and a relatively recent rule change has barred horses under the age of seven from running in the world's most famous steeplechase.
"She went up 5lb for winning in Punchestown the other day and that was fair, I felt. I was bracing myself for more, I must admit," said O'Sullivan.
"When you've a horse like her who needs a proper trip the races pick themselves really and with £80,000 on offer we'd be mad not to aim at the Eider Chase.
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"The key to her is the ground. I know this year's Welsh National was above average with Native River one of the favourites for the Gold Cup, but Katie (Walsh) knew when she walked the track it wasn't soft enough for her.
"If there's one place you'd have expected the ground to suit it would be Chepstow but there you go. It rained a lot in Ireland last week and that was perfect for us.
"She has a very high knee action so must have it soft. She's only six but started jumping fences in France at the back end of her three-year-old season, so she's got the experience of a seven or eight-year-old really.
"She can't run at Aintree this year but next year it will be her aim. The lottery ticket, of course, will be the ground. We need a Red Marauder year! You never know what the weather is going to do. That's the dream, though."
Other Irish possibles at this stage are Welsh National runner-up Raz De Maree, Portrait King, winner in 2012 and third last year, and Dare To Endeavour.
Kruzhlinin has been entered by Philip Hobbs, while Kerry Lee has entered Alfie Spinner, Goodtoknow, Bishops Road and Mountainous.
Shotgun Paddy, Straidnahanna, Warrantor, Harry Topper and Saturday's impressive Towton Novices' Chase winner Baywing all have the option.
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