What are the best bets in the Becher Chase at Aintree?
The Becher Chase at Aintree gives us our first look of the National fences this season and Saturday’s renewal (due off 1.40pm) will see 17 hopefuls go to post, with plenty fancied.
Horses for courses is a good maxim at Aintree and especially over the National fences, so last year’s big-race runner-up Saint Are has to be of interest on the back of a satisfactory prep run at Cheltenham. And it would be foolish to rule out the 2014 hero Pineau De Re, whose trainer Dr Richard Newland is making some positive noises about the 12-year-old becoming the first Grand National winner since Bindaree in 2004 to win another race.
I wouldn’t put anyone off backing either but I’m convinced there is better to come from THUNDER AND ROSES and he could well be a National horse this season. It all depends how he takes to the fences and backing him on his first look is a risk, I know. However, the seven-year-old is a good jumper in the main and stamina is very much his strong suit as he showed when winning the Irish National at Fairyhouse in April. According to his trainer Sandra Hughes he likes the ground “heavy and dead” and he’s likely to get that here, while the booking of Bryan Cooper (form figures of 2221 on him) is another positive. A recent run over hurdles at Clonmel will have put him spot on for this.
Of the rest, I’ve a hunch that HIGHLAND LODGE could outrun his 33/1 price tag (Coral), despite being 7lb wrong at the weights. Fourth in the 2013 Hennessy off a much higher mark than today’s, he became disappointing and has looked out of love with the game for a while now. However, he is having his first start for Jimmy Moffat this afternoon and the change of scenery could do him the world of good, while his new trainer seemed very happy with the way he was working in a recent Stable Tour. He’s got to be worth a small each-way interest at the odds.