Friday, December 02, 2016

The Betfred Becher Chase 2016

Usually I tend to prefer a horse with form over the National fences for the Betfred Becher Chase; there are plenty on offer amongst those declared for tomorrow's renewal (Aintree 1.35).

The Last Samuri finished second to Rule The World in this year's National with Ucello Conti sixth, Vieux Lion Rouge seventh and Double Ross, Aachen and Saint Are all pulled up.

Previously Double Ross had finished fifth in the 2015 Grand Sefton while Saint Are had finished second to Many Clouds in the 2015 National and then seventh behind Highland Lodge and Dare To Endeavour in this event last year (with Portrait King falling two out when appearing to have place claims).

Alvarado and Paul Moloney were fourth behind Pineau De Re in the 2014 National, making up plenty of ground in the latter stages of the race. I tipped the same pairing the following year, hoping Moloney could race a little closer to the pace but rather frustratingly the chestnut gelding ran a similar sort of race to finish fourth once again...

Of those named, Ucello Conti looks weighted to come home in front of The Last Samuri while Dare To Endeavour starts off a mark only one pound higher than last year.

A couple of those without experience over the National fences have had this as their target for some time including Ziga Boy (went to Bangor after missing Wincanton's Badger Ales Trophy on account of quick ground) and Silvergrove who had previously finished third in the Kim Muir at Cheltenham.

In the Weekender dated 09-13.11.16 handler Ben Pauling said of the latter:

'He's the best jumper I've ever had to deal with... The aim this season is the Grand National and I think he's the type of horse who would really take to it. We'll have to get his mark up to get in that race but hopefully he'll manage that.'

He currently races off a mark of 138; plan A is clearly to raise that rating with a bold showing in tomorrow's race.

In similar vein Lucinda Russell said of One For Arthur in last week's Weekender:

'He excites me as much as anything in the yard... I'm sure he'd go well over the National fences as his jumping has never been better - I consider myself very lucky to have a horse who jumps so well.'

With a strike rate of 19.27% Neil Mulholland has his team in fine form - bet365 Gold Cup winner The Young Master is respected but is another who missed the Badger Ales on account of quick ground and doesn't have the benefit of a recent run to his name.

From the all-conquering Tizzard yard Viconte Du Noyer posted notice of his well-being with victory at Cheltenham three weeks ago (Alvarado sixth, both Cogry and Midnight Prayer brought down by a loose horse running across the twelfth fence in a nasty-looking incident) while Sizing Coal is an interesting runner over from Ireland who may just prefer more cut underfoot.

In recent years the race has tended to go the way of an older horse with the corresponding experience - Hello Bud won in 2010 and 2012 aged 12 and then 14 while Oscar Time took the 2014 renewal at the age of 13.

The race still has the look of a bookmakers' benefit event - you pays your money and takes your choice.

I buy into the Silvergrove story so suggest a small each-way wager on Silvergrove at 14/1 or bigger; bet365, Bet Victor and Paddy Power are amongst the layers offering a quarter the odds five places.


Anonymous said...

As you note it is easy enough to make a case of most of the field here with layers best priced 10/1 about any runner.

My dart has landed in Midnight Prayer who, but for a rare jumping error, may have finished closer to Slivergrove in the Kim Muir. I think he may handle the National fences and with this competitive event possibly being run at too fast a pace stamina may see him get involved at the business end of the race. There may not be too much in hand off his current 138 rating but he ticks a lot of my boxes and at 33/1 in places looks a potential value call.

Best of luck


GeeDee said...

At the age of seven, Vieux Lion Rouge (8/1f) became the youngest horse to win the Becher Chase since Silver Birch in 2004; Tom Scudamore's efforts on the favourite, together with the help of the rail on the run-in, denied the gallant Highland Lodge (20/1) a second consecutive victory by a short head.

The Last Samuri (9/1) and Ucello Conti (11/1) filled the other minor placings - the first four home had all previously competed and completed over the National fences.

Despite a noticeable error at The Chair, selection Silvergrove (12/1) jumped well in the main and held sixth spot for much of the trip to Becher's but thereafter he went backwards alarmingly quickly. He was the last to complete in thirteenth but looked exhausted by the whole experience, barely walking over the line some 53 lengths behind Viconte Du Noyer in twelfth.

I haven't heard if anything was amiss - I'd imagine connections are now contemplating a return to the drawing board...