• Racing/
  • Hello Bud Defies Rising Years To Win Becher

Betfred Becher Handicap Chase (Listed) 3m 2f

  • (6yo+, 3m 2f, Class 1, 16 runners)
  • Winner £61,897 2nd £23,320 3rd £11,671 4th £5,830 5th £2,926 6th £1,463 7th £726 8th £374
  • Going: Soft (Good to Soft in places, National Heavy)
  • Surface: Turf
Weighed In:
  • Winning time: 7m 21.50s
  • Off time: 14:10:17
  • Last Updated: December 8 2012, 23:51 GMT

The evergreen 14-year-old Hello Bud rolled back the years to land the Betfred Becher Handicap Chase at Aintree for a second time.

Hello Bud: Loves the Aintree fences
Hello Bud: Loves the Aintree fences

Racing in the colours of his trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies, the popular veteran has always saved his best for the famous Grand National fences and proved that the flame still burned brightly.

Adopting his usual position at the head of affairs, there may have been some concern when he was headed by Gullible Gordon but he was back in front with three fences to jump.

The challengers were queueing up behind with Big Fella Thanks, Swing Bill and Join Together all travelling notably well at various points in the closing stages.

David Pipe's grey was the first to crack with Join Together also coming under pressure but Paddy Brennan still appeared to be swinging along aboard Big Fella Thanks.

Brennan switched his mount to challenge at the top of the elbow but his mount couldn't pick up and it was the unexposed Join Together to throw down the strongest challenge.

Sam Twiston-Davies and the veteran were not to be denied, however, and Paul Nicholls' charge - half the age of his rival - had to settle for second.

The winning margin in a thrilling renewal was just a neck with a length and a quarter back to Big Fella Thanks and Swing Bill who prevailed in a bunch finish for the minor placings.

The winning jockey said: "You would never believe he was 14 - it is a shame he is not actually eight. He is unreal. He just loves jumping. I cannot tell you how much this horse means to me. He means more than anything else. He is unbelievable.

"I love this horse more than anything else in the world - almost on a par with my mum and dad. Hello Bud is the best thing that has ever happened to our family and the best thing that has happened this season. His heart is so big, he jumps for fun and goes on any ground. He just keeps galloping. He was out on his head in the last half-furlong and just kept digging in, digging in.

"The race panned out exactly as I hoped it would. Hello Bud is a lot cleverer than I am - I just went a gallop that I thought I could maintain - and he just kept galloping and grinding. The last half-furlong seemed to take forever but he kept pulling that little bit more out and how well did he jump? He is different class.

"Everywhere I went, I was always trying to take a pull on him. Every time that something got to my girths, I thought that we would go on a stride and, when we got a little lead again, take another pull. I was trying to get as many breathers into him as I could.I wasn't trying to get many long ones - I wanted to go from A to B as economically as possible.

"He got headed at Becher's Brook but I was thinking that it was a very long way from home. Having ridden him so many times and been beaten round here before - I remember my first Grand National riding him and I jumped upsides Denis O'Regan and he said that it was a long way from home and that we should sit still for a bit. It has stuck in my head ever since so I tried to sit still today and go a gallop that I could maintain.

"I was nearly crying on the run-in - I was shouting and roaring at him. I could hear everyone coming at me and all of the crowd. He keeps sticking his head out. I can't believe how lucky I am to ride him."

Twiston-Davies senior was just as emotional in his celebrations. "I do feel sorry for his ex-owner Seamus Murphy," he said. "He gave him to me for which I am very grateful.

"The run-in was just awful but thank goodness he hung on. As to the future, let's see. How can you really say retire when he obviously enjoys it so much?

"He kept going all the way to the line and as he jumped round there, he looked like a horse who was having a nice time. He is 14 and some people say retire, retire, but when horses are as happy as him what can you do? Why should we put them out in the field?"

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