Randox Health Grand National hero One For Arthur and former winners Vieux Lion Rouge and Walk In The Mill headline 26 five-day confirmations for the £150,000 G3 Randox Health Becher Handicap Chase (1.30pm) over the Grand National fences at Aintree on Saturday, 7 December, Becher Chase Day.
One For Arthur became the first Scottish-trained winner of the world’s greatest chase for 38 years when scoring for Kinross-based Lucinda Russell in 2017, and finished sixth behind Tiger Roll in this year’s renewal.
Vieux Lion Rouge (David Pipe) boasts an exceptional record over the Grand National fences, having completed on all seven appearances over the unique obstacles, and scored by a short-head in a thrilling 2016 Randox Health Becher Handicap Chase.
He was runner-up to Walk In The Mill (Robert Walford) 12 months ago and both horses will be aiming to become the third dual winner of the race following Into The Red (1994 & 1996) and Hello Bud (2010 & 2012).
Vintage Clouds (Sue Smith) has placed at the last two Cheltenham Festivals and is 7/1 favourite with Virgin Bet, who sponsor six of the eight races on Becher Chase Day.
The nine-year-old, owned by three-time Grand National winner Trevor Hemmings, will be making his second outing over the Grand National fences, having fallen at the first in this year’s Randox Health Grand National.
Unexposed second-season novice Mulcahys Hill (8/1 with Virgin Bet) stayed on well to beat subsequent winner Wholestone by a neck in a Cheltenham novices’ chase in October.
His trainer Warren Greatrex said today: “The Becher Chase is the plan for Mulcahys Hill.
“We decided to bypass Cheltenham in November and run here given that we think the Grand National fences could suit as he jumps so well.
“The Becher Chase is a big pot and hopefully he can run a big race at Aintree.”
Gigginstown House Stud and Gordon Elliott have teamed up to win the last two runnings of the Randox Health Grand National with Tiger Roll. The owner/combination could bid for another major Aintree success with top-weight Alpha Des Obeaux, who was third in the G1 Down Royal Champion Chase at the start of November.
Definitly Red (Brian Ellison) has tasted success on Becher Chase Day in 2017 and 2018, winning the G2 Virgin Bet Price Boosts Many Clouds Chase on both occasions. The 10-year-old was badly hampered on his only previous start over the Grand National fences in the 2017 Randox Health Grand National.
Nigel Twiston-Davies has won the Randox Health Becher Handicap Chase a record six times and the Gloucestershire handler looks set to be represented by Ballyoptic, who took the G2 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby on 2 November.
Other contenders include Mysteree (Michael Scudamore), who beat One For Arthur at Kelso in October.
Randox Health Becher Chase – Virgin Bet prices:
7/1 Vintage Clouds; 8/1 Mulcahys Hill; 9/1 Vieux Lion Rouge; 10/1 Alpha Des Obeaux, Walk In The Mill; 11/1 Ballyoptic, Definitly Red, One For Arthur; 14/1 Ballydine, Mysteree; 16/1 Kimberlite Candy; 18/1 As De Mee, Dragon D’Estruval; 20/1 Abolitionist, Double Shuffle; 25/1 Wandrin Star, Like The Sound; 33/1 Amalfi Doug, Hogan’s Height, Le Breuil, Minellacelebration ; 40/1 Gold Opera, Fact Of The Matter, Federici; 50/1 Rathlin Rose, Regal Flow
Each-way 1/5 odds, 1-2-3-4-5
Saturday’s other race over the Grand National fences on Becher Chase Day is the £80,000 Virgin Bet Grand Sefton Handicap Chase (3.15pm) over two miles and five furlongs, which has 19 five-day confirmations headed by the Nicky Henderson-trained duo of 5/1 joint-favourite Gold Present and Casablanca Mix.
Other leading contenders include Flying Angel (Nigel Twiston-Davies), who is the other 5/1 joint-favourite with Virgin Bet after capturing a handicap chase at Ascot on 22 November, Touch Kick (Paul Nicholls), successful on his seasonal return at Fakenham in October, plus Ultragold (Colin Tizzard), twice successful over the course and distance in the Randox Health Topham Chase. There is also a French-trained entry in It’s Jennifer (Louisa Carberry).
Virgin Bet Grand Sefton Handicap Chase – Virgin Bet prices:
5/1 Flying Angel, Gold Present; 11/2 Ultragold; 6/1 Touch Kick; 7/1 It’s Jennifer; 8/1 Casablanca Mix; 10/1 Didero Vallis; 12/1 Killaro Boy; 16/1 Kayf Adventure; 20/1 Amalfi Doug; 25/1 Kimberlite Candy, Hogan’s Height, Gwencily Berbas; 33/1 Princeton Royale, Lord Bryan, Federici; 50/1 Beau Bay, Wishfull Dreaming; 66/1 Heist
Each-way 1/5 odds, 1-2-3-4
A tremendous day’s racing also features the £60,000 G2 Virgin Bet Price Boosts Many Clouds Chase (2.40pm). The three mile, one furlong contest looks set to be a superb affair, with the first two home from the 2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup – Native River (Colin Tizzard) and Might Bite (Nicky Henderson) – featuring among the eight contenders.
Definitly Red (Brian Ellison) may aim for a third straight win in the race, while last season’s Ryanair Chase runner-up Aso (Venetia Williams) has also been entered alongside G1 winners Black Corton (Paul Nicholls) and Top Notch (Nicky Henderson).
The going at Aintree is currently Soft, Good to Soft in places on the Grand National course and Good to Soft, Soft in places on the Mildmay and Hurdle courses.