Aintree Becher Chase Preview: Blacklion the one to beat on Saturday
It is hard to be to dogmatic about a horse winning a race over Aintree’s fearsome Grand National fences but the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Blaklion appears to tick every available box when trying to assess the possible outcome of next Saturday’s Randox Health Becher Chase.
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The eight-year-old is a classy staying chaser on his day and ran a stormer back in April when finishing fourth behind One For Arthur in the world’s most famous steeplechase as the 8-1 market leader. The son of Kayf Tara looked all over the winner approaching the second-last fence but the marathon trip of over 4m 2f possibly found out the mount of Noel Fehily in the closing stages.
Saturday’s distance of 3m 2f looks ideal for the gelding who is only 1lb higher following that creditable effort and with the Grange Hill Farm handler in such sparkling form the 5-1 available with Coral prior to Monday’s forfeit stage could still be on the generous side come the final declaration stage later in the week.
Blaklion’s seasonal reappearance in Wetherby’s bet365 Charlie Hall Chase last month could hardly have worked out any better with the selection going down by just half a length to stablemate Bristol De Mai who produced the performance of the season so far with his 57 length demolition job in Haydock’s Grade 1 Betfair Chase last week, earning a Racing Post Rating of 185 in the process.
Top weight on Saturday is likely to be carried by 2016 Grand National runner-up The Last Samurai and despite the Flemensfirth gelding’s excellent record over the fences faces a formidable task in trying to give 6lb to Blaklion. The Jonjo O’Neill-trained Go Conquer is currently 10-1 second favourite with most firms but the recent winner of Ascot’s valuable Sodexo Gold Cup will surely be better suited to the shorter Grand Sefton Chase on the same card for which the eight-year-old is the 8-1 favourite with bookmakers.
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In a race with a maximum field of 30 the lightly-weighted Highland Lodge appeals as a lively value alternative to the favourite. Winner of this race in 2015 and a short head second to Vieux Lion Rouge twelve months later the eleven-year-old is fragile but has an excellent record when fresh and is overpriced at the 20-1 quoted by bet365.