Becher Chase tips and predictions: We are backing Ashtown Lad

Today provides the second opportunity this winter to see horses flying over the famous spruce fences of Aintree’s National course. Besides the Grand National itself, the Becher Chase is the longest race run at the Merseyside venue and is therefore often used as a prep for the showpiece in April.

The contest has become known recently for its association with returning heroes. Vieux Lion Rouge, The Last Samuri and Highland Lodge have run well in multiple renewals, and last year’s winner Ashtown Lad is looking to add his name to that list. 

A field of 14 has been declared for this afternoon’s race and our expert has picked out three to consider.

Becher Chase, Aintree, Saturday December 9, 2.05pm 

Becher Chase tips

Selection: Ashtown Lad @ 4/1 with BoyleSports

Next best: Undersupervision @ 11/1 with BoyleSports

Also consider: Sidi Ismael @ 16/1 with BoyleSports

The above odds are correct at the time of publishing and subject to change.

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Defending champion looks to go in again

This does not look like the strongest running of the Becher. The second tranche of the market includes plenty about whom you would have doubts. Percussion is a bit of a course specialist but is out of the weights by a significant amount. 

The Big Breakaway is likely to wilt if he has to battle up the long run-in. Celebre D’allen is not certain to get home. Coko Beach had his big day a couple of weeks ago in the Troytown at Navan and is giving his rivals a stone or more.

There is no knocking the likely favourite ASHTOWN LAD and he is a rock-solid choice to defend his title. He is rated just 2lb higher than when winning a stronger renewal last year. Runner-up Gesskille won the Grand Sefton at the same venue last month, Percussion was running off a lower mark and former Becher contenders such as Snow Leopardess and Hill Sixteen were down the field.

Things have not gone too well for Ashtown Lad since, but he has ready excuses. He was campaigned over hurdles until the spring, when the Topham over 2m 5f of the National course proved too short. 

His return in the Badger Beers at Wincanton looked very much like a run to sharpen him up. There are no prizes for guessing the ultimate aim.

If Ashtown Lad returns in the same form as last year, there are few handicapped to beat him. He deserves to be a clear favourite.

Selection: Ashtown Lad @ 4/1 with BoyleSports

Course can suit Undersupervision

The strapping UNDERSUPERVISION ran another sound race at Cheltenham last month, when he was third in a contest at the November meeting. Although he has run well in the Cotswolds, his very best efforts have come at flat, left-handed Doncaster. He won the Grimthorpe Chase over this 3m 2f distance in 2022.

Because he is a big, one-paced sort, that does not seem to be a coincidence. It is also true that Undersupervision is often run on better ground, but his record on softer going is actually better. It was soft for his Grimthorpe victory and his recent Cheltenham run.

He can be a little clumsy, but Aintree’s fences do not punish dodgy jumpers like they used to – and Undersupervision can run a big race for Nigel and Sam Twiston-Davies, who won the Becher with Hello Bud in 2010 and 2012.

Next best: Undersupervision @ 11/1 with BoyleSports

Plain sailing for Ismael

With conditions set to be testing at Aintree, it could take a real dyed-in-the-wool stayer to win this year’s Becher. Highland Hunter is one to consider, but SIDI ISMAEL is more likely to be overlooked in the betting and so worth considering, especially with bookies offering extra places.

Sidi Ismael has won the Lincolnshire National and in the spring was placed in races around 3m 4f at Taunton and Ffos Las. In the latter, he bumped into an extremely well-handicapped horse ridden by crack 7lb claimer (as he was then) Freddie Gingell. But for that, he would surely be quite a bit shorter here.

Sidi Ismael had wind surgery over the spring and warmed up for this race with a run at Haydock. He will be ready to do himself justice now.

Also consider: Sidi Ismael @ 16/1 with BoyleSports

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