BechersThis is what Bechers used to be. Not any more. The National course still provides a good challenge but the real tests of jumping can now be found in France such as Craon Fence






20.Grand-Steeple-Chase-de-Paristhe Rivières des Tribunes and




gros open ditchGros Open Ditch at Auteuil and the feared



TaxisTaxis in the Pardubice in the Czech Republic.

What we have now at Aintree is a still visually appealing course that most horses get round. The risks now are about the number of runners and speed. It therefore opens up big opportunities for good handicappers such as my selection for last year’s big race.

I’m in strong agreement with Timeform’s Keith Melrose that you should avoid horses that are being tried out for next April. By definition they are not going to be pin sharp for Saturday’s race. However, for staying handicappers this has now become a huge target. Just look at the conditions:

Race Conditions: £140,000 guaranteed For 6yo+ to be ridden by Jockeys or Amateur Riders who, before December 4th, 2014, have ridden not less than 15 winners in chases or hurdles under any Rules of Racing and have ridden not less than 10 of these winners in chases (a novice horse shall only be qualified to run if it has run a minimum of three times in chases in Great Britain, Ireland or France) Minimum weight 10-0 Penalties after November 23rd, a winner of a chase 3lb (no penalty to increase a horse’s weight above 11st 12lb) Al Co’s Handicap Mark 147 Entries 47 pay £ 210 Confirmed 28 Penalty value 1st £78,582.00 2nd £29,554.00 3rd£14,770.00 4th £7,378.00 5th £3,710.00 6th £1,848.00

That’s serious money for the winner and through the places for these type of horses. So, which ones are in the short list?

Chance du Roy



Saint Are

And then there’s the Grand Sefton (£70,000 race). Pretty much all the prior comments apply but perhaps even more so in terms of this not being a race in which to choose Grand National candidates. This tends to be a very fast run race with the focus on those that hunt round and then stay on. With that in mind I’ll look at those declared tomorrow and update this post.

There are also potentially great supporting races including, in particular, the 2.40 3m1f chase in which I’ll be lumping into Sam Winner to beat Holywell (if they both turn up).

Aintree is expecting a full house which will be great for the atmosphere but I’ll be doing my racing the way I like it – in a pub with Racing UK and good friends. Can’t wait!!


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