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The Becher Chase – Race Preview
The annual running of the Becher Chase will take place at Aintree on Saturday. The Becher Chase is a Grade 3 handicap chase run over a distance of 3 miles and 2 furlongs and it is run over the same course as the Grand National. Twenty one fences are jumped in what is unofficial seen as a Grand National trial. Only two horses, Amberleigh House and Silver Birch, have won the Becher Chase and then gone on to win the Grand National. Saturday will see 17 runners go to post in what looks to be one of the most competitive Becher Chases in recent years.
Four horses are currently vying for ante-post favouritism, headed in the weights by the Paul Nicholls trained Unioniste. Last seen when finishing mid-division in the Gold Cup at Sandown in April, it would be some training performance if Unioniste could carry top weight to success on Saturday after a 224 day break. Unioniste also has limited experience over the National fences, only clearing four in this year’s race, before falling at the fifth.
The Jim Dreaper trained Goonyella was a willing winner of the Midlands Grand National back in March, before placing second in the Scottish Grand National at Ayr. A three-mile run over hurdles last month will see him come into Saturday’s race fit and if he can handle the Aintree course and fences he could well take all the beating.
Thunder & Roses trained by Sandra Hughes won the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse in April and like Goonyella he has had a recent run over hurdles in preparation for Saturday’s race. There are concerns on whether Thunder & Roses has the genuine ability to stay over 3 miles and Saturday’s race will give connections a better idea on whether they have a potential Grand National winner on their hands.
Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies has won the Becher Chase on five occasions and he will be represented with the six-year old Algernon Pazham. Runner-up on his seasonal debut in a handicap chase at Bangor, Algernon Pazham will have to rewrite history to be successful, with no horse aged under seven-years having ever won the Becher Chase.
Pineau De Rey was successful in the Grand National in 2014 but has struggled for form since his Aintree success. Unsuccessful in seven races since his Grand National victory, Pineau De Rey did however show possible signs of a return to form when runner-up to Vino Griego last time out at Sandown. Set to run in Saturday’s race off a mark of 141, he is not without a chance over a course and fences that he knows well.
Other notable runners in Saturday’s race are Saint Are, runner-up in this year’s Grand National and the David Pipe trained Soll, who has experience over the National fences having run in the race twice.
Unioniste, Goonyella, Thunder & Roses and Algernon Pazam are all available at 9 (8/1) for success on Saturday with Pineau Re Rey 11 (10/1). The horse racing tip for Saturday’s Becher Chase is Pineau De Rey each-way at 11 (10/1).
By: Scott McGlynn