2019 Becher Chase tips – Two horses to back in popular Aintree handicap this Saturday
Jon Vine takes a look through the ante-post betting for the Becher Handicap Chase and highlights two horses for punters to side with at Aintree on Saturday 7th December.
National Hunt fans have a bumper day of racing to take in on Saturday, with the Tingle Creek at Sandown the feature Grade One of the day. The Many Clouds Chase at Aintree is sure to attract a classy field of entries, but the most popular race with punters and purists will be the Becher Handicap Chase.
Created in 1992, the Becher Chase provides potential Grand National horses with the opportunity to sample the fearsome National fences before the main event in April. Three-and-a-quarter miles of terrain will need to be crossed, as the Becher Chase entrants tackle famous obstacles like The Chair, Becher’s Brook and Foinavon.
I’ve enjoyed a tremendous season so far with my ante-post tips, tipping the winners of the BetVictor Gold Cup, the Troytown and the Ladbrokes Trophy in recent weeks. I’ve taken a look through the vast list of entries for this weekend’s Becher and picked out the two horses I’ll be backing.
2019 Becher Handicap Chase Tip One
Give Me A Copper ran out an impressive winner of the Badger Beers Trophy earlier in the season and he could still be ahead of the handicapper, despite a six-pound rise. Mulcahys Hill can build on the victory he secured at Cheltenham earlier this month and the way former Grand National winner, One For Arthur rallied on his reappearance at Kelso suggests he could still have a big victory left in his legs.
Trailing over the line a place behind One For Arthur at Kelso was VINTAGE CLOUDS (9/1 William Hill). Sue Smith’s nine-year-old was my main tip in last year’s Grand National, only to fall at the very first obstacle. Yet, he remains on an extremely workable handicap mark and I’m inclined to go in on Vintage Clouds once again.
On the back of his excellent runner-up finish in the Ultima Handicap, I was dismayed to see Vintage Clouds depart the scene so early in the National. Smith’s chaser was then backed into 5/1 favouritism for the Scottish Grand National a few weeks later, but didn’t jump with much fluency, staying on to eventually cross the line a distant sixth.
Again, Danny Cook’s mount looked a little laboured on his reappearance at Kelso. However, I’m prepared to put a line through that run. It was the first time Vintage Clouds had ever run at Kelso. The ground was a firmer than he would ideally like and two fences had to be omitted, making the whole race rather messy.
Vintage Clouds has some excellent form at Aintree to his name and Smith must have schooled her nine-year-old over the National fences before taking Vintage Clouds back to Merseyside in April. If he gets beyond the first fence, then I wouldn’t be surprised to see Vintage Clouds mount a winning challenge.
2019 Becher Handicap Chase Tip Two
14 of the last 20 winners of the Becher have carried 10-12 or less to victory, so it seems sensible to sift through those in the bottom half of the weights to find my second selection. Only two horses under the age of eight have won in that time too, so clearly experience and guaranteed staying ability are important qualities too.
I’ve already tipped one horse barring the colours of legendary owner Trevor Hemmings. Fellow flag-bearers, Touch Kick and Burtons Well have both won already this term and could be well handicapped. The one who’s really caught my eye though is LIKE THE SOUND (25/1 Paddy Power), who will be sharp after a prep-run over hurdles and looks a dour stayer to be feared.
Charlie Mann’s chaser only had two starts in novice company last autumn, finishing second and sixth, before stepping up into open company. Following an encouraging second at Fontwell, Like The Sound bolted up in the Somerset National at Wincanton, beating Len Brennan and possible Aintree rival, Wandrin Star by 18 lengths.
Like The Sound then broke blood vessels as he was pulled up on his return to Wincanton, and unshipped Harry Bannister early on at Taunton. Mann’s eight-year-old bounced back from those disappointing results on his final start of the campaign, beating Pobbles Bay – who went on to win the West Wales’ National – by a length when carrying 11-10.
After that triumph, Mann identified the Becher Chase as the goal for Like The Sound and he will strip fitter after a run over hurdles at Market Rasen last month. Although most of his victories came on right-handed tracks last term, Mann’s charge won twice on left-handed tracks as a hurdler and finished second on both his starts on left-handed courses last term.
Like The Sound may not have the star quality of some of the horses ahead of him in the betting, but he’s been targeted at this race since the end of last season and has twice won big handicaps over similar distance to this. He could give each-way backers a real run for their money.