December 7 2013 will see the Aintree fences back in action for the first time since the Grand National in April and the two Betfred-sponsored races that utilise them have received more than 40 entries apiece.
Included in the potential line-up are some familiar Grand National names including Colbert Station, Join Together, Across The Bay, Big Fella Thanks and Wyck Hill.
The David Pipe trained Swing Bill also gets an entry in the £150,000 Becher Chase and is owned by Halewood International, the new sponsor of the first £1 million Crabbie’s Grand National. Pipe holds five entries including Ace High, Master Overseer, Boston’s Angel, Junior, as well as Swing Bill.
Junior is his highest rated entry and ran in the 2012 Grand National before falling at the second fence. He wasn’t given another entry for the 2013 renewal and connections may be waiting for the outcome of the Becher before making a determination as to whether or not he will get an entry for the 2014 Crabbie’s Grand National.
Willie Mullins leads the Irish contingent with five entrants including On His Own, Prince De Beauchene, Sin Palo, Terminal and Vesper Bell. Mullins, who took the Grand National in 2005 with Hedgehunter, has never won the Becher Chase and didn’t have a runner in the 2012 renewal but currently Prince De Beauchene is the joint ante-post favourite with race sponsors, Betfred.
Jonjo O’Neill, the current leader on the jumps Champion Trainer board, has two entries in Storm Survivor and Grand National runner Lost Glory and is hoping for his second Becher Chase victory having already won it in 2003 with Clan Royal.
The most successful Becher Chase trainer, Nigel Twiston-Davies, who has won it five times, enters two in the form of Imperial Commander and Baby Run, neither of whom have yet had a run since the end of last season though Imperial Commander is entered into the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury on November 30.
The Becher Chase is run over a distance of 3m2f and there are twenty-one fences to be jumped. Run over the same fences as Aintree’s most famous race, the Grand National, it is seen as an early-season trial for that event with two past winners going on to win the National itself; Amberleigh House and Silver Birch.
The Becher Chase was established in 1992 and was upgraded to Grade Three by the British Horseracing Board from its 2014 running. Hello Bud remains the oldest horse to have won it at the age of 14, in 2012 and this year the prize fund for the race is worth £150,000.
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