Friday, December 07, 2018

Becher Chase 2018

In search of a (seasonal) Saturday wager I've been browsing through runners in the London National (Sandown 3.35), the Welsh National Trial (Chepstow 2.35) and the Becher Chase (Aintree 1.30).

Ramses De Teillee, fifth behind Present Man in the Badger Ales last time on ground that wouldn't necessarily have suited, looks to have conditions in his favour at Chepstow on this his second start after a wind operation - he's the one to beat and is priced accordingly.

In a race where five of the ten runners boast course and distance winning form, I thought I had a potential angle with Another Venture; quoting from Kim Bailey's Straight from the Stable tour (Weekender 24-28.10.18):

"...he'll be all about those long-distance staying handicaps this season. I'm sure there's a good one in him somewhere, although he'd want the ground riding very soft." 

Unfortunately the layers aren't showing too much Christmas spirit - 7/1 generally, 9/1 Paddy Power - so I'm off to Aintree instead for the Becher Chase which is run over the National fences.

Eighteen are set to face the starter including former winners Highland Lodge, Vieux Lion Rouge and Blaklion. The bottom four race from out of the handicap; the going is currently described as soft.

In the past ten years only two horses have carried more than 11-0 to victory - Vic Venturi (11-12 in 2009) and Blaklion (11-6 last year).

In the same timeframe just two winners have been returned bigger than 14/1 - Oscar Time (25/1 in 2014) and Highland Lodge (20/1 in 2015).

Nigel Twiston-Davies' pair, Blaklion and Ballyoptic, find themselves at the head of the market while both Gordon Elliott runners have been off the track a long time. James Moffat sends down Just A Par along with Highland Lodge from his Cartmel base.

I've seen Crosshue Boy tipped up in a couple of places but on Racing Post ratings this one has something to find with a few of these while Present Man has done the majority of his racing on right-handed tracks.

For this race I tend to prefer one with form over the fences and the one I like with less than 11-0 is 2016 winner Vieux Lion Rouge.

Part-owned by Professor Caroline Tisdall (who 'supports the IJF' according to the naming of the first at Chepstow), the gelding was beaten some 65 lengths into seventh by Blaklion last year but at least starts tomorrow off a mark six pounds lower.

'Not likely to make too much of a difference!' I can hear you cry but, hey, he has undergone wind surgery since last at the track, sports a first-time tongue tie and, to date, has at least managed to complete every time he has tackled these fences.

Of the others Ultragold has stand-out form over these obstacles but races beyond three miles for the first time. On his two attempts at three miles to date he finished ninth behind Go Conquer at Ascot (November 2017) and fourth of six behind Dinons in a novices' hurdle at Cheltenham at the end of October.

Those who want a bigger price may think Regal Flow worthy of a second look.

Bob Buckler's charge won the Midlands Grand National on heavy at Uttoxeter in March before coming home tenth in the Scottish National. His two runs since should have put him spot on - my reservation is he has no form over these fences.

Oddschecker tells me William Hill is paying one fifth the odds seven places; at 9/1 Vieux Lion Rouge is the each-way selection.

1 comment:

GeeDee said...

Vieux Lion Rouge (11/1) raced mid-division as the field passed the stands but when the leaders increased the pace going out into the country he struggled to maintain his position. He was ridden after Becher's and looked a prime candidate for being pulled up.

Thanks to Tom Scudamore's persistence the selection slowly started to make ground from two out. Sixth coming to the last, he made four places on the long run-in to finish an unlikely second, four and a half lengths behind Walk In The Mill (10/1) with Ultragold (12/1) third and long-time leader Call It Magic (14/1) fourth.

Missed Approach (12/1) and Mr Sam Waley-Cohen certainly had an eventful race. The pairing lost several lengths at the start, disputed the lead from the eighth, were hampered by Call It Magic at Valentine's, and eventually dropped to sixth spot from two out.