Go West for Becher glory

  • By: Chris Wilson
  • Last Updated: December 8 2012, 15:21 GMT

West End Rocker is Chris Wilson's nap of the day for Saturday's meetings - he has a tip for every UK and Irish race.

West End Rocker: Backed to take glory at Aintree
West End Rocker: Backed to take glory at Aintree

AINTREE: 12.00 Lifetime, 12.35 L'Unique, 1.05 Quito De La Roque, 1.35 Bathwick Brave, 2.10 WEST END ROCKER (NAP), 2.45 Hollo Ladies, 3.20 Tranquil Sea

CHEPSTOW: 12.25 High Ho Sheriff, 1.00 Big Occasion, 1.30 Carole's Destiny, 2.05 Royal Charm, 2.40 Brough Academy, 3.15 Highway Code, 3.45 O'Faolains Boy

LINGFIELD: 11.35 Paddy's Saltantes, 12.05 Great Demeanor, 12.40 Rossetti, 1.10 Novel Dancer, 1.40 Beat The Bell, 2.15 Omar Khayyam, 2.50 Sudden Wish, 3.25 Silly Billy

NAVAN: 12.15 Some Article, 12.50 Moscow Mannon, 1.20 Dushybeag, 1.50 Start Me Up, 2.25 Oscars Well, 3.00 Marasonnien, 3.30 De Glebe Star

SANDOWN: 12.20 Golden Hoof, 12.55 Justazippy, 1.25 Arkose, 1.55 Captain Conan, 2.30 Starluck, 3.05 Sprinter Sacre, 3.40 Any Currency

WETHERBY: 12.10 Kris Cross, 12.45 Stormy Weather, 1.15 Always Bold, 1.45 Rossini's Dancer, 2.20 Trucking Along, 2.55 Overafrica, 3.30 Runswick Royal

DOUBLE: West End Rocker and Captain Conan

West End Rocker has a fine chance of registering consecutive victories in the Betfred Becher Handicap Chase at Aintree.

Trained in Wiltshire by Alan King, this well-built 10-year-old jumped beautifully in last year's renewal before pulling 22 lengths clear at the line.

Things have admittedly not gone to plan since then, but he is just 5lb higher upon his return to Merseyside and looks quite an appealing prospect to bring home the double.

West End Rocker was campaigned solely last season with the John Smith's Grand National in mind and did not see a racecourse since the Becher.

That calculated risk backfired as he fell after just two fences in the main event in April.

He was also brought down at Becher's on the first circuit 12 months earlier in the National, which is why connections will resist the urge to return next year.

That means we are likely to see a lot more of an aggressively-campaigned West End Rocker this term - especially as there is no long-term goal for which to preserve his handicap mark.

King has already given him one spin this year, in the Badger Ales Trophy at Wincanton, but West End Rocker was clearly ill at ease at the demanding Somerset venue.

He still finished a distant third, though, which perhaps gave a nice insight into his well-being ahead of this assignment.

And with the forecast rain also likely to help his cause, he might not even need to be quite as polished as 12 months ago to keep this Listed prize at Barbury Castle.

Fireworks are also anticipated at Sandown, where Sprinter Sacre has Hollywood appeal in the Sportingbet Tingle Creek Chase.

Sanctuaire will have plenty of value-seeking supporters - he has looked fast and fabulous in three tries over fences last term - but Nicky Henderson's six-year-old is a different gravy.

His wins in the Arkle and the Maghull drew the breath away, while Sandown's galloping circuit looks an ideal place at which to make his seasonal debut.

Although he missed a pipe-opener at Cheltenham due to ground conditions, Sprinter Sacre won at Doncaster last year after an age off the track and will not be lacking for fitness.

With the Arkle form now looking watertight, it is difficult to identify any chinks in the armour of a horse who has not yet reached his full capacity.

A good day for Henderson can herald Captain Conan's coming of age in the Markel Insurance Henry VIII Novices' Chase.

The five-year-old gelding did very well over hurdles, having signed off with a second-placed finish to Darlan in an Aintree Grade Two, but always had the look of a chaser.

That certainly appeared the case at Cheltenham's Open meeting when he jumped crisply from the outset in a Grade Two over two miles to defeat subsequent winner Sire De Grugy by a couple of lengths.

With no Overturn in the field, the stage is set for Captain Conan to boost his already strong claims for the Arkle.

High Ho Sheriff made an accomplished debut at Ffos Las in November and can go one place better in the Lindley Catering Novices' Hurdle at Chepstow, while Stormy Weather holds a stout chance in the Constant Security Novices' Chase at Wetherby.

Great Demeanor, an impressive second on just his second start at Kempton in November, should make it third-time lucky in the 32Red EBF Maiden Stakes at Lingfield.


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