horse racing

Becher Chase in-running pointers….

A super busy day on the National Hunt front today with 5 meetings taking place around the country (Aintree, Chepstow, Sandown, Wetherby & Fairyhouse).

For this weekends in-running focus our seasoned in-running expert Andy Richmond has decided to plump for the Becher Chase from Aintree (2.10) run over the National fences.

Andy has gone through the entire field with a fine-tooth comb and supplied us with in-running thoughts for all 15 runners.

Below Andy’s notes I have added one of the pace maps from the NTF guides that my subscriber receive. This is just to give you a visual aid as to how the race may pan out.

*Andy uses the superb ProForm software for all his in-running pointers and statistical analysis



MAD MAX: needs a flat galloping track (Kempton/Newbury/Aintree) and no longer tubed as he’ll wear a flash noseband to help him breathe through his nose. It must be remembered that he’s never run over further than 2M 5F and it’s likely that he may travel to some point and then fail to get home – in 14 runs he’s traded at 50% or less than his SP on 12 occasions, converting on 6 on those starts, but remember this is the furthest he’s been and the first experience of these unique fences against some specialists.

Run Style – tracking leaders

RARE BOB: has never run over these fences, although he has had two outings on the Mildmay course, the going will suit (14113314 – on soft), hard to know how he will take to the fences, but he regularly trades under his SP from his track position, although he does face a contested lead here. He has a big weight but he carried a similar impost when winning at Leopardstown in a valuable handicap and despite his lack of experience he has shown that he can handle big fields and his stable have won this in two of the last three years with Black Apalachi and Vic Venturi. Would be of interest as a back-to-lay vehicle.

Run Style – front-runner/prominent

NICHE MARKET:  Paul Nicholls has a good record in this race winning three of the last seven runnings and his representative here has previous experience which should be taken as a positive in this race. He was fifth in last year’s Grand National and led at the 23rd (Valentines), where he traded at a low of 4.0 (25.9 BSP) but he possibly found the 4M 4F trip a shade too far and ran out of stamina. Several past winners of this race have taken in the National as “preparation” and he should be well tuned up after his run at Ascot a few weeks ago. Niche Market is streetwise enough to handle himself in these big handicaps he has won the Irish National, the Silver Cup at Ascot and finished third and fifth in successive Hennessy Gold Cups and his prominent racing style is a must for races over these big fences. He should get a strong pace to chase and one can imagine him travelling strongly behind the leaders before striking for home over the last couple of fences. His price looks to offer plenty of in-running elasticity.

Run Style – tracking leaders

SWING BILL: was 5th to Always Waining in the 2011 Topham so has experience of these fences, on that occasion he traded at a low of 5.0 from a BSP of 32.0, he got outpaced over that 2M 5F trip so this longer trip may suit. His hold-up style of running does make life tough though and it may well be the case that a few of these get first run on him as it’s very difficult to come from out the back here and his Cheltenham win may well have been his early season target with this a little bit of an afterthought. In his last three wins he has traded above his SP at some stage during the race.

Run Style – held-up

ALWAYS WAINING: has a good record at Aintree especially over the National fences (4F161), but he’s not won anywhere else since September 2008 (Market Rasen) and appears to come alive around here. There must be a question mark about his effectiveness on soft going and over the trip – he won the last two Topham’s over 2M 5F and its surprising to see him here rather than in the Grand Sefton later on the card. In those Topham victories he traded at huge prices IR – 95.0 and 60.0 – as he has done on all of his wins. There is also a point to consider about him being better the other side of Xmas – especially in those Topham wins. He’s exhibited that trait on all his wins and he may be worth bearing in mind during the race at big prices as he clearly loves this place, but if you do secure a big price and he comes with a winning run remember the question mark against his stamina. I would certainly rather take a bigger price IR than his current odds of around 12/1.

Run Style – midfield

WEST END ROCKER: has some positives and was jumping well on his limited experience of these fences in last year’s National when he was brought down at Bechers the first time around. Alan King has stated that this is his target but he’ll need to improve from his first run of the season at Cheltenham. To be fair the King horses were a little behind at the point of that last run and the yard are showing much better form now. He’s not going to be prominent here and that is not usually ideal in the shorter races over the National fences where it pays to be prominent. Again he’s likely to be one of the horses that will be available at bigger prices IR, although with the form of the yard he may well be worth taking a look at if the market overreacts early on.

Run Style – held-up

MERCHANT PADDY: he had some useful form in 2009 but hasn’t shown much since and no experience of these fences, and plenty of the rest of the field have much more to offer in terms of the win or IR markets.

Run Style – held-up

HELLO BUD: he may well be getting on in years but he has plenty of zip as demonstrated at Wincanton last month when from a BSP of 32 he still showed enough from the front to trade at 6.0IR before fading to finish 5th. That track and trip at Wincanton won’t have suited him ideally and his record around here reads 551P – in the two defeats he traded at 2.32 and 5.0, demonstrating his worth as a back-to-lay vehicle and on his victory he showed his tenacity by trading at a high of 14.0 before battling back to win. He’ll be pressed for the lead this year, with Pak Jak, Rare Bob and Nicto Du Beauchene in the field but he’s faced that situation before and Sam Twiston-Davies appears to excel on this sort of point and shoot animal. From a double figure price it’s not hard to imagine backers being able to trade out effectively throughout the race – since 2008 in 22 races Hello Bud has traded at 50% or less than his BSP on 16 occasions and gone onto win 8 of those.

Run Style – front runner/prominent

NICTO DU BEAUCHENE: no experience of these fences and a rather in-and-out profile, he ran well in first-time blinkers at Bangor behind the unexposed Mohi Rahere, and it must be open to debate as to whether they will work as well again. It must be said that he has a good record of trading at 50% or less than his SP 17/21, although he has only converted four of those opportunities. Lack of experience and a tough lead make him a little under-priced for me here.

Run Style – front runner

ABBEYBRANEY: another who has his first experience of these fences and it looks a fairly tough task for him especially as he made a meal of winning his only chase a novice at Hexham (traded at a high of 7.0 from a BSP of 1.69). His jumping wasn’t the best on that occasion and he comes here of the back of a very disappointing effort at Cheltenham – surely plenty of these will have far too much experience here.

Run Style – midfield

MAX BYGRAVES: there must be a question mark over Kim Bailey’s horse especially on the ground, all of his best form is on top of the ground and the trip must also be a doubt. Throw in his lack of experience over fences and there doesn’t appear to be much scope in Max Bygraves as a betting vehicle in this race.

Run Style – midfield

SHALIMAR FROMENTRO: One of the least exposed types in the race and although he is inexperienced over these fences he did manage to jump around Auteuil last time out when winning, only to be disqualified for interfering with the runner-up – his last three runs have all been in France in fact. The one piece of form which would give him a chance here would be his Exeter novice chase second to Wymott – but given his age and lack of experience around here I would have to pass him over on this occasion, although he is exceptionally well-handicapped if he took to the place.

Run Style – chasing leaders

ANOTHER PALM: the shortest priced Irish horse in the race, he finished second in the Cork National in his most recent where he was given the Carberry kid-gloves treatment all the way, as with many horses that are ridden this way they don’t often give much when they are asked and on two tries at trips of 3M plus he has traded short and not gone on to win 1.32 IR last time out over 3M 6F and 1.30 over 3M 4F at Punchestown in the spring. As his name suggests he is by the sire Great Palm and he is still to have a winner at beyond 22F, so it may well be that we see a stalking ride from Carberry again and although I’m sure he will at some point trade shorter than his SP if he takes to these fences, I’m not so sure if I wouldn’t be taking out plenty of insurance if he did. He’s very young for a race such as this and this will be only his 7th chase start, plus you could argue that the blinkers may not work again. He certainly looks a traveller but I’ll be suspicious of the end product until he converts an opportunity at 3M plus.

Run Style – chasing leaders

PAK JAK: another who has a more than commendable record over the National fences (323F28F), but he’s not getting any younger, cheekpieces are applied for the first time in a bit to help him concentrate. His task is not made any easier by not being left alone up-front. Others make far more appeal.

Run Style – prominent/pressing leaders

BALLYVESEY: was fourth to Hello Bud in this last year and he actually headed him four out and traded at 2.16 from a BSP of 34.5, that was a good run from a 5-year-old, but he hasn’t shown much coming back from a summer break – he was disappointing at Haydock last time out although a visit to these fences could well rejuvenate him. On this occasion though there are others who are come here in better form.

Run Style – chasing leaders

SUMMARY: Niche Market, given the Nicholls record in the race, holds the most interest for me as a back-to-lay vehicle especially as he is sure to be nicely placed behind what is a strong pace, I wouldn’t be convinced about Great Palm getting home but we may see a typically stalking ride from Paul Carberry although with opposition in the closing stages I would be looking to field against him at short prices. If you do back him – remember some insurance on the long run-in. If there are a couple of horses that are worth a couple of long-priced darts IR then they would be Always Waining and West End Rocker.

Pace map

Many thanks to Andy for his in-depth look at the Becher Chase from an in-running perspective.

You can find Andy on Racing UK at various times through the week and you can also follow him on Twitter under the username @bickley14

For other in-running twitter thoughts you should also follow ProForm guru Simon Walton under the username @proform_racing TV

I made my second appearance on the newly formed TV last night.

Only a short episode last night and I didn’t get to do my eye-catchers from the week (would have been Zaynar & Our Mick) but take a look for yourself and see what we did manage to discuss – TV

The channel is very much work in progress but once we are all comfortable with the set-up I can only see it going from strength to strength, especially as the Cheltenham Festival creeps ever closer.

JP likes to close with a ‘best bet of the weekend’ section. Obviously my weekend selections go to my subscribers so I’ll be using this section to try and think a bit outside of the box and uncover a bit of an interesting sort to get your money on.

Happy punting

Ben (NTF)


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