The Becher Chase, run over the Grand National fences of course, is one of the country’s favourite staying handicap chases and with 18 runners declared this year’s renewal looks like being a real cracker.
Naturally this is competitive, however we’ve whittled the field down to what we think are the six standouts in the field with the selection looking to have a bit of weight in hand.
With just seven chases under his belt so far, there may yet be more to come from Charlie Longsdon’s gelding with his form from the Peter Marsh Chase over at Haydock last season looking fair in the context of this race.
He has been off the track since pulling up in the Midlands National and it remains to be seen just how ready he is to carry on his progression, but it remains possible that he is still on the upgrade and so off this mark he cannot be discounted at all.
We have to judge this horse not on his tailed-off last in the Betfair Chase behind two superstars, but on his previous win at Wetherby in the Charlie Hall where he kept on well to score by 3¾ lengths.
Such horses winning in Grade 2 company tend not go under the title of “well-handicapped” when going into races like this and it seems we’d have to agree where this horse is concerned, however he is not the worst off we’ve seen either and so with the possibility of more to come in these conditions he too makes the list.
Tom Lacey’s name may not be one we see on too many of these big Saturday trophies, but owner JP McManus’s definitely is and we think he knows full well his entrant here has an outstanding chance at the weights.
While this will be his third season chasing, at just seven years old the son of Flemensfirth has almost certainly not reached his peak performance as yet and in these conditions, he could get a whole lot closer to that this weekend.
He was improving slowly and steadily last season with his best coming on soft ground over three miles at Sandown where he was second in a handicap, and now that he’s fresh and most likely a good few pounds better than back then, the fact that he’s off the same mark means he looks well-weighted to us to run this very close.
In beating Wholestone on just his fifth chase start at Cheltenham, Warren Greatrex’s runner announced himself on the scene but his form overall doesn’t scream Becher winner considering his 7lbs rise in the handicap. So, while he remains of interest especially from an each-way point of view, he is just about passed over for win purposes this time around.
One For Arthur
The 2017 Grand National hero, also fifth in this race on the lead-up to that win, clearly goes well around here but the noises coming from Lucinda Russell’s yard while optimistic for the longer term, don’t seem overly confident regarding this particular event so again, he is not considered for the win despite his undoubted popularity.
Walk In The Mill
Winner of this race for our column twelve months ago, Walk In The Mill is popular with us but he owes us nothing and is arguably not in the same condition as he was back then, though undoubtedly he’ll come good.
His fourth in the Grand National must have taken plenty out of him, so while his medium-term future is probably still bright, trying to double up in this race off a 4lbs higher mark will be very difficult indeed, though his each-way chances still look quite strong with four places offered.
Grand National types One For Arthur and last year’s winner Walk In The Mill will always be of interest in this race, in fact the latter named may yet run another blinder in conditions that could be ideal, however these races tend to go to horses with a little weight in hand and that’s what we believe the selection has.
That selection is KIMBERLITE CANDY who looks capable of achieving a rating well into the 140’s at some point, possibly more, so coming into this race fresh off a mark of 137 looks good to us and he gets the nod.