THE Becher Chase over Aintree’s big fences has become a reliable trial for the Grand National itself. The 3m 2f contest is usually run on soft ground, which places a real emphasis on stamina. No more is the phrase “horses for courses” more meaningful than at Aintree and of the 23 entered in this year’s race, 12 have a clear round to their name over the big fences. So where is the ante-post value in this Saturday’s race?
West End Rocker was an emphatic winner of last season’s Becher before falling at the second in the National. He should go well off a mark of 142 and is currently 8/1. In Compliance ran a blinder in the National to finish fifth to Neptune Collonges and the 16/1 on offer at present looks rather big. The 2011 National winner Ballabriggs is an intended runner but could be anchored by top weight in the likely event of soft ground. His 8/1 looks a bit skinny. So does the 12/1 about Planet Of Sound who really needs decent ground but is unlikely to get it if this week’s Aintree forecast is correct.
Cheltenham Festival winner Alfie Sherrin is the current ante-post market leader at 7/1 but has no experience of the fences. Saint Are was quietly fancied for the Hennessy last Saturday but fell early on and his jumping will have to be taken on trust. If he clicks with the big fences, he could be a big player.
So sticking to the “horses for courses” mantra, Big Fella Thanks, who was 7th in Ballabriggs’ National, looks decent each-way value at 14/1. He unseated his rider over the mildmay course last month but has been targeted at the race by Tom George. Throw in Hello Bud, Paul Nicholls’ Join Together and Swing Bill and you have an ultra-competitive renewal of the Becher.
Selection: Big Fella Thanks each-way at 14/1.
Please click here for the latest ante-post market for the Becher Chase with Stan James.
*All ante-post prices accurate at time of publication. Prices are subject to change.