We know injury will prevent last season’s Grand National winner One For Arthur lining up at Aintree in the spring but Blacklion, who finished fourth in the great race back in April, has been very well backed for the Becher Chase at Aintree on Saturday week.
The eight-year-old was beaten half a length by Bristol De Mai in the Charlie Hall at the beginning of the month and it is fair to say that form has been well and truly franked. It has been a tremendous autumn for the yard of Nigel Twiston-Davies with the BetVictor Gold Cup and Betfair Chase added to the Wetherby contest and his Blaklion is 4/1 from 7s with BetVictor for Becher glory. Do note, he looked a non-stayer in the National back in the spring and next month’s drop back in trip should suit him down to the ground.
Good ground the order of the day at Taunton and I like the booking of Adrian Coleman for Rebecca Curtis’s lightly-raced Libby T Valance (1.20) who has only had three career starts to date, but shaped in both runs over timber that a step up to three miles would suit.
The Curtis yard had a 33/1 winner at Southwell earlier in the week and it is possible that, after a slow start, the stable will start firing in the winners. The mare won a Bumper first time out at Worcester and her pedigree certainly suggests that a step up in trip is worth exploring.
Curtis also saddles Joe Farrell who has been dropped 4lbs since his seasonal reappearance when he finished second on soft ground at Ffos Las. Today’s better ground will suit but preference is for top-weight Lovely Job (1.50) who can make all for Fergal O’Brien and Noel Fehily. The selection is a fast fluent jumper and connections appear to have found an excellent opportunity to pick up a valuable prize.
Paul Nicholls saddles the chase debutant Captain Buck’s and it will be interesting to see if the market speaks in favour of this course winner.
In the 3m Handicap Chase I’m going to take a chance on That’s Gonna Sting (2.50) who looked beaten when coming down on his chase debut here earlier in the month, but had been hampered early in the race and was a bit keen. The handicapper has dropped him 3lbs and he should be less fresh on this occasion.
Canny Style (1.30) may have just been outstayed at Carlisle on hr hurdles debut at Carlisle but she is taken to go one better for Kevin Ryan in the Mares Hurdle at Musselburgh. The selection won a handicap on the level here over 1m 5f back in the summer and it will be disappointing if she doesn’t go very close this afternoon.
Affaire D’Honneur (2.30) has a very good record fresh and makes his chase debut for Harry Whittingham this afternoon. The yard did us a favour and landed a gamble with Vinnie Lewis at Sedgefield earlier in the week and the selection is very well treated on his best form over timber.
Silver Concorde (2.30) has his first start for Keith Dalgleish having been trained by Dermot Weld in Ireland to win the Champion Bumper back in 2014 and to finish third in the 2016 Chester Cup. Now a nine-year-old the selection has some decent hurdles form to his name and today’s conditions should be ideal.
At Sedgefield, Hurricane Rita (2.10) has her first start for Olly Murphy in the mares’ Handicap Hurdle and she was in good form when last seen on the track for Stuart Coltherd back in the spring. The booking of Richard Johnson would suggest her new connections are expecting a big run.
Ballyarthur (3.10) disappointed at Aintree on his chase debut last time but he has the scope to make his mark over fences and he can take the novice chase at Towcester for Nigel Twiston-Davies. Kim Bailey has his string in terrific form and he wastes little time getting Wandrin Star, who won an Irish point-to-point, over fences having been well supported on his British debut at Ffos Las. Another who is well worth a check of the market.