13:30 Aintree Sat 8 December 2018
- Becher Handicap Chase (Grade 3) (National Course) (Class 1)
- 3m 1f 188y, Soft
- 18 Runners
- Surface: Turf
Three-time Grade One winner over fences including once here although not won since 2015 and didn't race last season. Jumping and staying his trump cards so always appealed as a National type. If all ability remains he would have a huge chance.
Fourth in the 2017 Grand National and again showed he loves these fences when bolting up in this last year. Things didn't go to plan in repeat National when brought down at the first but record over these fences makes him the one to beat again here.
Dual novice chase scorer last term including Grade Two and fourth in RSA at the festival and ended season when beaten a nose in 4m Scottish National. No experience over these fences but is a class act and acts on heavy ground.
Winner of the valuable Paddy Power in December 2015 and subsequently ran with credit at Cheltenham and in the Irish National. Off since however having missed all last season. Acts on heavy and has a touch of class but tough ask after so long off.
Progressive sort has won six of 13 chases and posted another career best to start this season when landing a Listed contest at Wincanton on good ground. Also acts on soft although little evidence on heavy. Tough off career high mark but respected.
Twice a winner of the Topham (2m5f) over these fences including on heavy ground. Never won beyond that 2m5f distance so trip the big question and on this ground stamina will very much be to the fore.
Winner of the 3m2f Kim Muir at last year's Cheltenham festival also stays 4m. Effective and probably best on soft and heavy ground and won first time out in the past. First time over these fences but jumps soundly so should be effective.
2016 winner of this has completed in each of the last three Grand National's although never quite seems to stay the 4m2f trip. Only midfield in this last year but now back to last winning mark so has each-way potential with ground no concern.
Three-time chase winner completed in the 2016 and 2017 Nationals although beaten out of sight in each. Missed all of last season and now starts out for new yard (former Paul Nicholls) but tough ask after 588 days off the track.
Won four of five starts in a fine novice campaign proving effective from 2m to 3m including on heavy. Weakened on recent hurdle reappearance but could have been laid out for this and with potential to improve further he merits serious respect.
Three-time heavy ground winner last term including valuable Midlands National at Uttoxeter over 4m2f. Yet to reach those heights in two starts this term although slightly better latest. Not obviously well handicapped and first time over the fences.
Four-time chase winner including three for this yard at up to 3m. 6lb higher here than last year's Ascot win after finishing third there before pulling up at Haydock. Remote third at Cheltenham to start the season leaves him a bit to find overall.
Irish raider won twice in testing conditions last term and ended season with a respectable seventh in the Irish National. Beaten 45L and 44L in two starts this season so hardly arrives in top form and is a risky proposition here.
2015 winner of this race was a short-head second the following year and third to Blaklion last year. Only ran once after but best fresh in any case and arrives on lowest mark since his 2015 win so no surprise if he again makes a bold bid.
Lone chase win came in early 2016 over 2m4f. Some fair efforts last term over fences and hurdles but only midfield on recent hurdles return and on all known form he looks likely to find these rivals too strong.
3m and 3m4f winner over fences both on good ground which seems to be his favoured. Lesser efforts the last twice after winning at Doncaster and from 4lb out of the handicap on unknown ground he is hard to fancy.
Fourth in this race last year remained largely consistent afterwards although he couldn't add to his Kelso win earlier last term. No prep run this time which there was last year and 4lb out of the handicap so tough to match that fourth.
Three-time chase winner was second in this back in 2015 and does appreciate these fences but hasn't won since 2014 and seems to be regressing. Near impossible task from 17lb out of the handicap.
Last Year's Winner
|T: N A Twiston-DaviesJ: G Sheehan|
Blaklion (9/2), Ballyoptic (15/2), Walk In The Mill (10/1), Don Poli (10/1), Vieux Lion Rouge (11/1), Present Man (11/1), Ultragold (12/1), Missed Approach (12/1), Crosshue Boy (12/1), Call It Magic (14/1), Noble Endeavor (14/1), Fine Theatre (14/1), Highland Lodge (16/1), Regal Flow (20/1), Federici (33/1), Mustmeetalady (40/1), Just A Par (50/1), Dare To Endeavour (66/1)
- Don Poli
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