Saturday Racing Preview: Becher Chase Among The Highlights Of A Fascinating Weekend

Betfred's Matt Hulmes takes a look at Saturday's best races including Sandown, Aintree and Wetherby
17:05, 03 Dec 2021

A fascinating weekend of racing lies ahead with the bulk of the best action in front of the ITV cameras at Sandown and Aintree.

Sandown plays host to the Tingle Creek Chase for the best two-mile chasers, while Aintree features action over the National Fences courtesy of the Becher Chase as well as the Many Clouds Chase, featuring 2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, Native River.

Chepstow has the Welsh Grand National trial too while Wetherby also hosts a competitive card and there is graded action over in Ireland at Navan. It truly is a feast for racing fans this Saturday.

2.05 AINTREE – NATIVE RIVER*

NATIVE RIVER runs in his third Many Clouds Chase and having won the race two years ago, he was undone by the low sun which took out all the jumping in the home straight last year. It still was a run below his best, but he proved later in the season that the fire still burns bright when winning the Cotswold Chase (rearranged at Sandown) and then fourth in the Gold Cup (best of the British) to end the season the highest rated staying chaser in Britain. 

The Tizzard’s are adamant he is still a force when he has his conditions and the heavens have opened just in time for him here.

Native River
Native River

Protektorat is the obvious danger after his gallant effort under top weight in the Paddy Power Gold Cup. He also has the possibility of a Savills Chase tilt at Leopardstown over Christmas, and this will tell connections if he is up to that. A Grade 1 winner at this track in April, he will be tested for stamina by Native River on his step up to this three-mile one furlong trip and I’d just side with the proven stamina and class of the veteran.  

Imperial Aura came to grief in the Betfair Chase to make it three successive non-completions, but he too is a major contender if getting his act together. 

2.25 SANDOWN – GREANETEEN

The Tingle Creek is always a fascinating watch as the cream of the two-mile chasing division wing their way around Sandown and fly over the famous railway fences in the back straight. Its roll of honour is littered with champions, eleven of which have been provided by Paul Nicholls.

He saddles two this year and although Hitman beat GREANETEEN at Exeter, that was in receipt of 17lb and the latter was electric when winning here in April, beating Altior, Sceau Royal and the reigning champion Put The Kettle On. Bryony Frost rides and after the week that has seen her part of a hearing at the BHA, it would be the best way to end a tough few days.

Greaneteen
Greaneteen

Hitman was backed like defeat was out of the question at Exeter and may still be a little wet behind the ears for a contest like this, while Captain Guinness has a few jumping frailties.

Nube Negra is obviously a huge danger on the back of his Shloer Chase win at Cheltenham. Last year's Champion Chase runner-up proved his well being there and will appreciate ground conditions more than the favourite Chacun Pour Soi, who finished just behind him in March. 

Chacun Pour Soi has won seven of his nine starts for Willie Mullins, the only defeats coming at the festival and behind A Plus Tard at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting in 2019. He is top rated but would prefer slower ground and is giving away a fitness advantage.

2.40 AINTREE – KIMBERLITE CANDY & ACHILLE

My two against the field in the Becher Chase are dual runner-up KIMBERLITE CANDY and the grey ACHILLE for last weekend's big winners Venetia Williams and Charlie Deutcsh. 

Two of KIMBERLITE CANDY’s last four races have come in this very race, runner-up to Walk In The Mill in 2019 before filling the same spot behind Vieux Lion Rouge twelve months ago. He returns 3lb lower after his most recent effort saw him pull-up in the Grand National itself, while his only other run in the past two and half years saw him win the Classic Chase at Warwick. He acts on the ground, is well weighted, stays well and we know he loves this race so should be fighting it out come the finish.

The other one I like is ACHILLE for the in-form Venetia Williams and Charlie Deutsch combination. The trainer has said he could develop into a National candidate and is a strong stayer who will have appreciated the recent rainfall on Merseyside. He was a close second in the Haydock Grand National Trial in February before a solid sixth in the Midlands National and has a lovely weight of 10-5 to carry. 

Mac Tottie won the Grand Sefton over these fences last month and will be popular, while Snow Leopardess was impressive at Bangor on seasonal return and was a fine fourth in the National Hunt Chase at the Festival in March.

3.15 AINTREE – TAMAR BRIDGE

TAMAR BRIDGE should take plenty of beating in the lucky last at Aintree. He has only had the four starts, winning three of them. He was long odds on when winning easily at Wetherby five weeks ago and comfortably beat Bass Rock at Ayr back in March. He is now rated 132 so off a mark 4lb lower than that, his claims are clear to see, and connections have been waiting for the heavens to open to pitch him into handicap company. He could be well ahead of the handicapper. 

TAMARBRIDGE35AYRJPG

Kateson loves it at Aintree and is off the same mark as when winning this race twelve months ago so rates a danger, while Midnight River returns to hurdling after falling over fences at Carlisle and now has a slight question mark. 

Pounding Poet and Winningseverything were second and fourth in a course and distance contest in October in which the winner has been placed at Cheltenham subsequently and are lightly enough raced to improve to contend also. 

OTHER RACES

I am looking forward to seeing MIGHT I (12.05 Sandown) again as he looks a likely contender for leading honours in the two-mile novice hurdle division. Victory here and I could see him returning for the G1 Tolworth Hurdle next month.

DEISE ABA (3.00 Sandown) is looking to make it three from three at Sandown in the London National and the light raced 8yo was a good second over hurdles at Aintree last month. 

Metier (3.35 Sandown) makes his eagerly anticipated return in the handicap that concludes the card at Sandown. Last year's Tolworth winner was last seen disappointing in the Supreme Novices Hurdle but will need to be fit to win here with some hardy handicappers such as Benson and Hudson De Grugy in opposition. 

The Welsh Grand National Trial is the feature at Chepstow but the likeliest candidate for that race could be seen earlier on the card when Harry Fry’s ASK ME EARLY (11:38 Chepstow) prepares for the big race later this month over hurdles having won over the smaller obstacles at Exeter last month. 

The Trial itself features 2019 Welsh national runner-up Truckers Lodge, who could manage no better than seventh in the 2020 running. A host or runners will be looking to enhance their claims of claiming the Welsh National itself back here in three weeks’ time (27th December). 

SIZABLE SAM (1:57 Chepstow) jumped and travelled well in the main on chasing debut at Ascot but just got tapped for some speed when they reached the business end. The step up to three miles looks sure to suit and he can off the mark over fences at the second attempt.

*All odds courtesy of Betfred | 18+ | BeGambleAware

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