Becher Chase Preview – Saturday 7th December
Last updated: December 5, 2019 by Leon Marshal
The feature race at Aintree on Saturday is the £150,000 Becher Handicap Chase over an extended three miles on the Grand National course. The race was established in 1992, providing trainers with the opportunity to test their horses over the big Aintree fences.
Earth Summit (1998) won this race under top weight of 12 stone in his Grand National winning year. Amberleigh House (2001) and Silver Birch (2004) won this race before going to on to glory in the big race. Other notable winners include Kildimo (1992), Young Hustler (1995), Black Apalachi (2008) and Blaklion (2017). Hello Bud (2010, 2012) became the first horse to win the race twice, his second victory coming at the age of 14.
One For Arthur returns to scene of Grand National victory
The most popular winner on Saturday would be Lucinda Russell’s 2017 Grand National winner One For Arthur. The son of Milan provided Scotland with a memorable victory when powering clear of Cause Of Causes off a rating of 148.
Injury prevented him from racing again until appearing in the Many Clouds Chase at the corresponding meeting last year. He unseated his rider on that occasion and the same fate befell Derek Fox at Haydock. Despite this unsatisfactory preparation, One For Arthur ran a great race in the Grand National to finish sixth to Tiger Roll. He looked a little rusty on his seasonal reappearance at Kelso in October but that will have sharpened him up for this weekend. He is only 1lb higher than when winning the National.
Mulcahys Hill is only a novice but comes here after battling on well to catch Wholestone at Cheltenham. That was his first run since falling in the marathon National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March. This will be only his sixth race over fences.
Vintage Clouds got no further than the first fence in the Grand National and was re-routed to Ayr for the Scottish National. Sue Smith’s grey finished sixth that day and jumped without his usual fluency on his return at Kelso. He must be respected on his run behind Beware The Bear at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
The winner of the Kelso race was Mysteree, a former winner of the Eider Chase. He seems to have been rejuvenated by the application of blinkers this season and cannot be ruled out off a 5lbs higher mark.
Walk In The Mill bids for repeat win at Aintree
Last year’s race was won by Walk In The Mill who beat course regular Vieux Lion Rouge by four and a half lengths. That rival is set to re-oppose on 5lbs better terms. Walk In The Mill finished a creditable fourth in the Grand National with several of Saturday’s opponents well beaten. He was pulled up at Wincanton last month but the sight of Aintree’s fences could spark a return to form.
Vieux Lion Rouge won this race in 2016 for David Pipe and has negotiated these fences safely in the last four Grand Nationals. His best effort was a sixth place in 2017 but he did record a confidence-boosting victory at Chepstow in October.
Ballyoptic was outclassed in the Betfair Chase last month after winning the Grade 2 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby. He fell in this race 12 months’ ago and departed four out in the Grand National. The gelding will also have a big weight to carry. Definitly Red has won twice over the Mildmay fences here but his Grand National run in 2017 was inconclusive. He was badly hampered and was forced to pull up with a slipped saddle. He did not show anything on his reappearance behind Ballyoptic in November.
Wandrin Star booked his place in the line-up with a fortuitous victory at Wincanton. He looked held by White Moon when that horse fell at the last fence. Bryony Frost rides As De Mee for Paul Nicholls. He unseated his rider at the tenth last year but had finished fifth in the Topham Chase here the previous season. He returned from a 630-day absence at Cheltenham over hurdles in November. Regal Flow won the Midlands National in 2018 but has struggled since and it will be a surprise if he is able to return to winning ways on Saturday.
Mysteree @16-1 at bet365
Walk In The Mill @9-1
Wandrin Star @20-1
Each-way 1/4 odds, 1,2,3,4
The Becher Chase is due off at 1.30 at Aintree on Saturday 7th December and will be televised live on ITV4.