The Insider: Pick Wyck
The Insider looks ahead to the Betfred Becher Chase at Aintree and attempts to find value against the favourite.
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The National fences aren't what they used to be but for excitement a spin round those Aintree fences cannot be replicated on any other racecourse and the Becher Chase offers the chance for the staying chaser to put their Grand National credentials on the line.
Three horses have been able to complete the Becher-Grand National double and though weight can always be a decisive factor in such races, it isn't a given that a low weight is key to success in the Becher.
Granted, 11 of the 21 winners have carried 10st5lb or less but there have also been three scorers off 12st and a further couple with 11st 7lb or more.
The undisputed "King" of the race has been Nigel Twiston-Davies and the Naunton handler has saddled five winners including Earth Summit, Young Hustler and an emotional double with Hello Bud (2010 and 2012).
Surprisingly, he has only one runner entered at the five-day stage with Foxhunters' Chase winner, Baby Run. Third off this mark in the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown way back in 2011, it would be an amazing training performance for him to be victorious on a first start for 959 days.
On His Own assumed favouritism for the race following the defection of another Andrea and Graham Wylie runner in Prince De Beauchene.
No stranger to big race glory having won the Thyestes Chase and the Boyne Hurdle in his native Ireland, he has had two cracks at the Grand National and has failed to complete in either.
Bostons Angel could potentially make a debut for David Pipe. The 2011 RSA winner has never won a handicap under rules and has kept his counsel in cross country events at Cheltenham, Punchestown and Lyon. The Nicholashayne team look to have an embarrassment of riches with Master Overseer, Junior and Swing Bill all engaged.
Nicky Henderson may have jokingly moaned about "mucking up" the National chance of Triolo D'Alene but it will be fascinating to see how Roberto Goldback gets on if allowed to take his chance. While he never looked like winning the United House Gold Cup at Ascot, the Hennessy winner was just a nose ahead of him on that occasion so the form has a solid look at face value.
Were the rains to fall to any degree, Walkon would have to be a factor but off a mark of 140, the most interesting horse in the race is WYCK HILL.
JP McManus purchased the horse in February with the Grand National as the aim though injury denied him the chance to make his mark there in April as he failed to recover from a leg injury he obtained during the Racing Plus Chase at Kempton.
He does have work to do based on his eighth in the aforementioned Ascot contest but the ground will have been plenty lively enough and with rain forecast toward the end of the week the current price of 14/1 about David Bridgwater's inmate could come under pressure.
Philip Hobbs has seen his string come to hand over the last few weeks and at slightly longer odds, PLANET OF SOUND makes a degree of each-way appeal.
Tried off a mark of 156 in the 2012 National, he arrives into Saturday's race off a 12lb lower figure although at the age of 11, one needs to factor in the likelihood that his ability levels have also started to regress.
That said, the unique challenge of the National fences can reawaken the enthusiasm of older horses, and having gone well fresh in the past (he won the Haldon Gold Cup in 2009 and was second in the 2011 Hennessy), there's a fair likelihood that he may be primed to strike for this valuable pot.
Take the available 20/1 as it looks more than fair under the circumstances.