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Thursday, 1 December 2016

Becher Chase Preview

You might expect that a valuable handicap chase over 3 miles 2 furlongs and the National fences would throw up a few long-priced winners and the Becher Chase has done just that over the last 10 years. Winners at 25/1 (twice), 20/1, 14/1 (twice) and 10/1 in that period are more than enough to whet our appetite so, as usual, we’ve come up with a few that could go well at rewarding odds.

Highland Lodge (16/1) won this race last year, on soft going, off a 5lb lower mark and, while he hasn’t been seen in public since pulling up in the Scottish Grand National at Ayr in April, would appear to have a decent chance of a repeat if fit and ready to do himself justice after an absence of 231 days. James Moffat’s 10-year-old has won a couple of times on the prevailing good to soft going and has won, or run well, on his seasonal reappearance a few times in the past. In any case, his trainer reports him in ‘tip-top form’ ahead of this year’s renewal.

Saint Are (16/1) could only finish seventh, beaten 32 lengths, behind Highland Lodge in this race last year, but is only 1lb higher in the weights than when winning at Doncaster in February and should be spot on after two runs already this season. He has plenty of experience over the National fences, having been placed in this race and the Grand National, itself, in the past and the drying conditions forecast for North West England between now and Saturday are very much in his favour. Regular partner Adrian Heskin is at Sandown to ride God’s Own in the Tingle Creek Chase but, in his absence, Brian Harding is a more than able deputy.

Milborough (33/1) has yet to tackle the National fences, but is usually a fairly sound jumper and, having won the Eider, over an extended 4 miles, at Newcastle in 2015, shouldn’t fail through lack of stamina. Ian Duncan’s 10-year-old is just 1lb higher in the weights and ran creditably on his seasonal reappearance when fourth of 12, beaten 13 lengths, behind Carrigdhoun over 3 miles 2 furlongs at Carlisle in October. He needs to improve to win this, but that’s not beyond the realms of possibility on just his second start since April and he’s undeniably well handicapped on his best form.

Selections: Highland Lodge (16/1), Saint Are (16/1), Milborough (33/1)

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