This weekend we have the first real trial for the 2018 Grand National and that is the Becher Chase. Although the race is only over the distance of three miles and two furlongs, six furlongs less than the big event in April, it is seen by many as a huge trial for the race. That is because the race is run at Aintree, over the Grand National fences, giving some horses more experience and others their first taste of those fences.
The obvious starting point here is Blaklion, a horse who many people have as the current favourite for the Grand National, and a horse who will more than likely be sent off favourite for the Becher Chase. He has run once this season, running in a thrilling Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby, finishing second behind stablemate Bristol De Mai. That run will have put him spot on for this race and he has actually been lowered two pounds for the run, putting him down to just one pound higher in the weights than when he came 4th in the 2017 Grand National. A year older, and with vital experience under his belt, Blaklion looks to be a very worthy favourite for the Becher, and he is sure to go close in April’s Grand National too.
Elsewhere, Vieux Lion Rouge is an exciting contender and his run around Wetherby, where he came many lengths behind Blaklion, will have put him in perfect condition for this race. He ran 6th at Aintree in the 2017 Grand National and is only weighted three pounds higher right now. Prior to his run in the National, he won the Haydock Grand National Trial, beating Blaklion into second place in what was a thrilling battle. He is sure to love the test of the Becher and this is the second step on his path to potential Grand National glory, in a similar vein to Blaklion.
Vicente is another horse to keep an eye on this weekend. He ran a cracker to come second in a Grade 3 handicap at Cheltenham just three weeks ago. He has won back to back Scottish Grand Nationals, and fell in the 2017 Aintree Grand National, so the exposure to these fences again will do him the world of good. He is a potentially smart animal, and still only eight years old, despite the vast experience he has. Those who are looking for something to jump into the Grand National picture this weekend may want to look at Vicente, a win here and he will be right up amongst the favourites for the race out of nowhere.
The Becher Chase looks to be an incredibly tough betting heat as it usually is and any one of a number of horses could win the race. Look out for Grand National clues on Saturday, there are sure to be plenty from this race and that should help you to solve the puzzle that is the 2018 Aintree Grand National.