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Friday, 4 December 2015

1:40 Aintree, Saturday, 5th December

The Becher Chase is run over 3 miles 2 furlongs on the Grand National Course at Aintree including, of course, Becher’s Brook, from which the race takes it name. The race hasn’t thrown up as many long-priced winners as you might expect, but winners at 33/1, 25/1 (twice) and 14/1 (twice) in the last ten years provide plenty of cause for optimism as far as this column in concerned.

Dare To Endeavour (50/1) hasn’t shown much in three starts for Eric McNamara since being transferred from Tom George in August, but it’s interesting that the Co. Limerick trainer is sending the Alflora gelding back across the Irish Sea for this valuable contest. The 8-year-old hasn’t won since early last year, but is only 1lb higher than his last winning mark and has winning form at up to 3 miles on soft and heavy going, so wouldn’t be without a chance if able to recapture his best form over these unique fences. The booking of Grand National winning jockey Liam Treadwell, who’s riding close to his minimum weight over the last twelve months, at 10st 2lb, adds to his appeal.

No Planning (16/1) ran creditably in defeat when third of ten, beaten 13 lengths, behind Vieux Lion Rouge over 3 miles at Haydock two weeks ago and makes no little appeal from a handicapping perspective. Sue Smith’s 8-year-old has been dropped 2lb in the weights and now races off the same handicap mark as when last successful over fences, at Haydock early last season, so could go well if taking to the National fences. Again, the Kayf Tara gelding has plenty of winning form on soft and heavy going up to 3 miles 1 furlong, so could be a shade overpriced.

Portrait King (20/1) was still with the leaders, albeit being pushed along, when falling at the third last in the Grand National last April, and his experience of the fences should stand him in good stead this time around. Now a 10-year-old, he was pulled up over 3 miles at Bangor-on-Dee last month on his debut for new trainer Patrick Griffiths, but is consequently 8lb lower in the weights than on his last visit to Aintree. He’s equally effective at this shorter distance, so his chance may not be as forlorn as his odds suggest.

Selections: Aintree 1.40 Dare To Endeavour (50/1), No Planning (16/1), Portrait King (20/1)

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