Backing any horse at 7-4 to win a 15-runner handicap over Aintree’s Grand National fences may be looked upon as pure madness but those who steamed in to support the well-backed Blaklion in the Randox Health Becher Chase on Saturday afternoon never had a moment’s worry as the mount of Gavin Sheehan came home a decisive nine length winner of the three mile two furlong contest.
Tipped by this column at 5-1 prior to the five-day declarations last weekend the eight-year-old failed to last out the extended 4m 2f of this year’s Grand National when finishing fourth but with more restraining tactics over Saturday’s shorter trip the Kayf Tara gelding cruised up to join long-time leader Highland Lodge after jumping two from home, from which point the result was never in doubt.
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Compared by trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies as similar to the legendary Red Rum ( winner of 3 Grand Nationals ), saying: “ He’s got this Red Rum-type of way of getting over the fences – he’s small but very agile and accurate. I’m sorry to use his name but he reminds me of Red Rum, although he’s got a lot to do to be anything like him.” Bookmakers now make Blaklion a best price 12-1 ( Betfair Sportsbook and Boylesports ) for the world’s most famous steeplechase next April and with less forceful tactics almost guaranteed this time the gelding is going to take some beating all being well in four months time.
The two feature races on Sandown’s high-class card on Saturday were the randoxhealth.com Henry V111 Novices’ Chase and the Betfair Tingle Creek Chase. The first of the two Grade 1 contests produced a small but select field of five leading novices headed by 13-8 market leader Finian’s Oscar but Colin Tizzard’s exciting five-year-old was never travelling or jumping with any fluency and was the first horse beat. Recent impressive Kempton scorer Brain Power attempted to make most of the running but the writing was on the wall for Nicky Henderson’s charge when Sceau Royal and jockey Daryl Jacob loomed up approaching the last where the former stumbled and unseated David Mullins. The son of Doctor Dino looks overpriced at the 9-1 available with Betfair Sportsbook for the Racing Post Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival.
Sceau Royal proves his class and wins the Henry VIII Novices' Chase. pic.twitter.com/nxBC83iHoO— ITV Racing (@itvracing) December 9, 2017
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The Tingle Creek looked a two-horse-race between odds on favourite Fox Norton and Politologue with the latter coming out on top by half a length after getting first run on Robbie Power’s mount, earning a top quote of 8-1 with Ladbrokes for the Queen Mother Champion Chase.