On the eve of Aintree’s second-biggest fixture of the season it’s well worth taking a careful look through the runners in both the Becher Chase 2019 and the Grand Sefton Chase to see if we can garner any pointers towards the 2020 Grand National next April.
The 2017 Grand National hero One For Arthur and former winners Vieux Lion Rouge and Walk In The Mill are the headline names amongst the near-finalised entries for the Becher Handicap Chase which is run over the formidable Grand National fences at Aintree on Saturday 7th December.
Becher Chase 2019 Contenders
One For Arthur became the first Scottish-trained winner for 38 years when scoring for Lucinda Russell in 2017 and he finished sixth behind Tiger Roll in this year’s renewal after a prolonged spell on the sidelines.
The David Pipe-trained Vieux Lion Rouge has an impeccable record over the Grand National fences, having completed on all his seven appearances over the famous obstacles. He just sneaked home by a short-head in the 2016 renewal of the Becher Handicap Chase. Does he still have what it takes for the Becher Chase 2019?
Walk In The Mill landed the Becher last year before finishing a fine fourth in the Grand National last spring. He warmed up for this race with a run in the Badger Beers at Wincanton and he will get his favoured ground conditions once again this Saturday according to the weather forecasts. Rated just 1lb higher than this time last year, he must be in the mix once again.
Vintage Clouds was all the rage for the National last term after a sterling effort in the Ultima Chase at The Festival but unfortunately, he got no further than the first fence.
He ran a decent enough race a week later in the Scottish Grand National and his opening run at Kelso wasn’t too bad, considering that he looked like being tailed off at one point.
Sue Smith’s horses have taken a while to come to the boil this season, but all of a sudden her yard has sprung back into life and a vintage performance may well be on the cards for the Trevor Hemmings-owned grey.
Brian Ellison’s Definitly Red has scored on this card in 2017 and 2018, taking the Many Clouds Chase on both occasions. The 10-year-old ran in the 2017 Grand National but he was badly hampered on the way round. A bold showing in the Becher may put him right on track for another attempt next April.
Grand Sefton Chase
Meanwhile in the Grand Sefton Chase, Flying Angel appears to be being plotted in a very similar way to Ian Williams’ Gas Line Boy was a couple of seasons back.
Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Flying Angel ran in the Old Roan Chase at Aintree first time up this season before winning nicely at Ascot last time out. The eight-year-old finished sixth in the Topham Chase over the National fences back in April and there is every reason to believe that Twiston-Davies’ is keeping the gelding’s eye in over the big fences for a possible crack at the Grand National in four months time.
Keep your eyes peeled for what will definitely be an informative weekend.