The Becher Chase is the first time in a season where we get to see the infamous Grand National Fences. Raced over three miles and a furlong, we have two previous winners as part of the field of eighteen taking their chances in 2019.
In 2018, the race was won by Walk In The Mill with Vieux Lion Rouge in second. Walk In The Mill won this and then ran in two hurdles before a tilt at the Grand National. He came a very good fourth in that race but pulled up in the Badger Ales. He comes alive over these fences and is only 4lbs higher than last year. Vieux Lion Rouge has ran seven times over these obstacles, winning one of those in this race in 2016. He’s 1lbs lower than his highest winning mark.
Ballyoptic and Regal Flow failed to complete last year’s renewal. Ballyoptic fell at the eleventh and also in the actual Grand National too. There would be questions about his liking for the fences. However, he’s been in very good form this season, winning a handicap chase at Chepstow and then the Charlie Hall Chase. Last time, he was last in the Betfair Chase and this is more his grade. Regal Flow last won in March 2018 in the Midland’s Grand National. On his second start of the next campaign, he unseated James Bowen in this race at the famous Foinavon fence. Today, he’s a long way out the bottom of the handicap and is 2lbs lower then his last winning mark.
As well as Walk In The Mill, Vieux Lion Rouge and Ballyoptic running in the 2019 Grand National, One For Arthur and Vintage Clouds took their chances in the greatest steeplechase of them all. One For Arthur won the 2017 Grand National but then wasn’t seen until the eighth of December 2018 when he unseated behind Definitely Red. Next time out, he unseated again in the Peter Marsh when Ballydine was third. He came sixth at Aintree and, on seasonal reappearance, came fourth to Mysteree at Kelso. He definitely has the ability to win this and he’s not that overly exposed. Vintage Clouds was second at the Cheltenham Festival and then fell at the first in the Grand National. A week later, he came sixth in the Scottish Grand National. He also used the aforementioned Kelso race as his seasonal debut but he finished fifth, one place behind One For Arthur. He will be partnered by Henry Brooke, who is fresh from Grade One glory at Newcastle last week.
Vintage Clouds‘ regular partner is Danny Cook but he rides old pal Definitely Red. This horse won on this card last year in the Many Clouds Chase and, before that, in the Charlie Hall. Since then, he got beat in a match, brought down in the Gold Cup and fifth in the Punchestown Gold Cup. Last time, he came fourth in the Charlie Hall behind Ballyoptic. He ran in One For Arthur’s National and that was his only try over these fences.
Mysteree ended a long losing run after scoring at Kelso when last seen, beating One For Arthur and Vintage Clouds. When previously seen, he’d been second to Crosspark in the Eider over four miles so stamina is assured. Kimberlite Candy was fifth that day . Mysteree stays well and jumps well too. This will be his first try over these fences. I’m sure the National is a long-term option. Kimberlite Candy ran once after that Newcastle run – in the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse. He was pulled up at the 16th and that may have been due to his stamina. He’s one of the more fancied runners as he’s five from sixteen and Richie McLernon is in excellent form.
Ballydine is making his seasonal debut. He was last seen pulled up in the Midlands National. He’s very unexposed as he’s only ran thirteen times. He won a chase at Sandown in February 2018 and he’s 8lbs higher than that winning mark. Abolitionist was with Ellmarie Holden in Ireland when he won the Leinster National. He came off a long absence to win on debut for the Richard Newman’s yard but was then well-beaten on his three subsequent starts. Alpha Des Obeaux is the sole Irish runner. He comes from the Gordon Elliott yard and Richard Johnson rides. He’s ran twice this season, coming second to Jett in a grade three and then was a good third to Road To Respect and Clan Des Obeaux in a grade one at Down Royal. He’s very consistent but fell in the 2017 National.
As De Mee is a six time winner and has won over this trip before. Last time, he was coming off a 630 day lay off when finishing seventh in a hurdles race at Cheltenham, when Vieux Lion Rouge was ninth. Minellacelebration won at Uttoxeter in 2018 the at Aintree in June after a break. He unseated at Ffos Las then came sixth to Wandrin Star at Wincanton. Wandrin Star rallied well that day to eventually win by a half length. This eight year old won’t want it too soft and he’s only ran fourteen times. He’s is one of interest. However, he was behind Like The Sound at Wincanton in January. That horse pulled up and unseated on his next two starts. After that, he won at Taunton before finishing for the season. He was ninth of nine on reappearance so is a 33/1 shot.
Le Breuil was the winner of the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, under Jamie Codd, on his last start of the 2018/19 campaign. That race was horrific and just four tired horses finished. He seems to now be taking the logical steps towards the Grand National, as he stays. He pulled up in a grade two hurdle on seasonal reappearance and connections are probably using this as a prep for the big race in April.
My selection is Mulcahys Hill. It’s quite obvious to see my love for this racehorse if you follow me on Twitter/Instagram or even know me in person. He’s so lovable and battled out an extremely willing victory at Cheltenham last time, beating Wholestone, who has subsequently won very well. He ran over fences last season without winning (but kept good company) and fell in the National Hunt Chase. I have been informed that he schooled well over the Lambourn Aintree fences so I’m confident in his chances. All I want is for him (and all the other runners) to get round safely. I wish the McNeill Family, Adrian Heskin and the team at Warren all the luck in the world.
As well as Mully, I think, if taking to the fences, Mysteree could run well but it will demand his best. One For Arthur seems to be clambering back to his old level of form. Walk In The Mill loves the fences.
Rest Of The Team Selections
Luke – Alpha Des Obeaux
Lois – Mysteree (EW)
Killian – Vintage Clouds
13:30 Aintree – Mulcahys Hill (One Of My 20 To Watch)
13:50 Sandown – Torpillo
Some really good horses have won this recently. This horse is only four so gets weight-for-age and is already a dual Chase winner. Fakir D’Oudairies, who’s only four, won a grade one chase in Ireland over the weekend.
14:05 Aintree – Break The Rules
This horse was a short head second to Midnight’s Gift, who also contests this race, at Fakenham last time and it will be between these two again. The Martin Smith team deserve to have a nice horse and this filly definitely could be smart.
14:25 Sandown – Smarty Wild
He’s four from five and I’m not sure what happened on his penultimate start to warrant such a poor performance but he ran very well to win last time so I think that start can be overlooked.
14:40 Aintree – Native River
This looks a good opportunity to get this horse’s head in front again. He won the Gold Cup beating Might Bite and has finished ahead of that horse a few times.
15:00 Sandown – Defi Du Seuil
Made easy work of Politologue at Cheltenham in the Shloer Chase. He looks like he could be the dominant horse in this division as it seems Altior is going up in trip. He beat Lostintranslation at Cheltenham and we all know how good he seems to be!
15:15 Aintree – Ultragold
This horse is a proper chaser. He loves these fences. He’s only been beaten a handful of times over these fences and he just comes alive over them.
15:35 Sandown – Sharp Response
He won at Catterick in January and was a decent second in a good race last time. Live contender.