The Becher Chase is a prestigious contest in its own right but it’s almost impossible to talk about the winter showpiece without at least a brief mention for the big one at Aintree.
Not that a few of Saturday’s runners will need reminding of the test that awaits them with last year’s Grand National runner-up The Last Samuri heading the weights ahead of the 2016 renewal.
Kim Bailey’s charge is just one of many who’ll likely be back next spring for a shot at landing the world’s greatest steeplechase. And no doubt his performance and many others will offer up plenty of National clues.
However, let’s get back to the task at hand.
Ucello Conti currently heads the market for this weekend’s Becher Chase at 8/1 with Gordon Elliott’s entrant recently seen bringing up the rear in a hurdle contest at Navan.
That pipeopener should serve the eight-year-old well although he’s likely to have plenty on his plate given the seasoned line-up set to light up this corner of Merseyside.
Trainer Neil Mulholland has made no secret of his Aintree ambitions for The Young Master with last season’s bet365 Gold Cup winner having been schooled over the National fences at Lambourn.
Meanwhile, other leading fancies include Sizing Coal, third in last year’s Irish Grand National, and Alvarado.
The latter has finished fourth in the previous two Grand National renewals and can count himself an old hand at tackling the unique obstacles.
Elsewhere, it’d be unwise to strongly oppose anything Colin Tizzard puts out right now and his Viconte Du Noyer has got valid claims following a decent victory at Cheltenham last time out.
But if, like us, you’re a fan of trends (EVERYTHING pointed towards a Native River victory in this year’s Hennessy…) then bear these nuggets in mind.
– Five of the last 10 winners were aged nine-years-old with only one horse younger than eight winning this race since 2000 (Silver Birch, who subsequently went on to win the Grand National)
– Irish Bred horses have won nine of the previous 10 runnings
– Seven of the last 10 Becher Chase winners carried 10-12 or less while the remaining three in that sequence carried 11-5 or more
– Horses rated between 130 and 139 have won seven of the last 10 renewals
- – Nine of the last 10 winners finished in the first five on their last completed start
– The last six winners had run over the National fences before
Sizing Coal (albeit he hasn’t been over the National fences), Alvarado and Gas Line Boy certainly tick a few of the boxes above.
At the prices, we’re plumping for the latter as our each-way bet.
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All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing