The Becher Chase was an advert for why we love this game so much. A thirteen year old veteran in Baby Run, absent for 959 days showing his younger rivals a clean pair of heels with a bold front running display similar to his stablemate Hello Bud twelve months earlier. Sadly, he had to settle for second place behind Chance Du Roy (not that sad as winner was tipped up for our Community Members by Steve Mullington! – JP) but not before showing a resilient attitude on the run in to battle back bravely. The most heart-warming sight was Sam Twiston-Davies patting the horse’s neck barely a stride after crossing the line showing a true affection for the horse after running what was probably the race of his life.
Michael Andrews @mytentoryours wrote this blog post which captures the mood of the race perfectly from a sentimental point of view. I will confess myself that I was numb with the excitement of how well he ran, especially on the run towards two out when he looked as though he may win.
With a mixture of sentiment and logical thought, he could return in April for the big one itself and cause one of the biggest stories in the race’s rich history although a part of me would want him to stay safe. He owes connections nothing and let’s not forget that he was in the field last season with Hello Bud and Bindaree. If he does come back for the National, he would be facing an almightytask in attempting to become the first ever fourteen year old ever to take the prize. It would be some training feat if that happened.
Take nothing away from Chance Du Roy though, who wasn’t right last season and on his best form over these fences had a great chance if he got the trip. Given a confident ride by Tom O’Brien, he allowed his mount to creep into contention going down towards Becher’s and always had something in reserve for when Baby Run came again on the run in. The Grand National looks the obvious plan although the extra trip there would be the concern, but with his liking of the course another bold bid wouldn’t be out of the question.
The third horse Mr Moonshine is another with course experience, having ran well for a long way in this year’s National before stamina limitations kicked in and he was pulled up at the twenty seventh fence. Although the ground was probably softer than ideal, he was closing on the leading pair at the finish. He should return to Aintree in April where he would be an ideal candidate for the Topham. Ballybough Gorta ran a nice race for a horse so young and is the typical consistent Bowen horse that is a credit to connections.
Veterans over these fences give a glowing feeling and just like Baby Run, Swing Bill ran another huge race with it looking at one stage that it could be a one-two for him and Baby Run before he faded to finish fifth. He will probably return for the National to represent the sponsors in their colours. The favourite On His Own ran a really strange race. Having started prominently, he dropped away to the rear of the field in a quite alarming manner plus a mistake at the Chair didn’t help his chances. Although he was tailed off at Valentine’s, he finished like a train and when I checked the finishing positions after the race, it was surprising to see that he finished so close. He is still a confusing horse to place and it wouldn’t surprise if he won a big pot somewhere. although it won’t be around Aintree.
Big Fella Thanks was one of the only horses held up who actually got within half a dozen lengths of the leaders before stamina became the issue yet again. Hopefully, he finally runs in the Topham where the trip will suit him perfectly and he will have the chance to get a much deserved success over the big fences. Across The Bay didn’t seem to enjoy himself like he did in the National but he did plug on to his credit but he looks handicapped to the hilt. Join Together looks to have fallen out of love with the game completely.
Of those that didn’t complete, Pineau De Re jumped the fences very well until over reaching at the eighth where he paid the penalty whilst Storm Survivor and Vesper Bell both fell at the first. The former was a simple case of over jumping but the latter crashed through the obstacle giving David Casey no chance. Hopefully this experience hasn’t scarred Vesper Bell as in the paddock, he looked a proper National type.
If there were two to take out of the race towards April, it would be Wyck Hill and Rose Of The Moon. The former made a serious error at the second fence down the side of the course and was seen to better effect later in the race. He ran a similar race to what 2007 runner up McKelvey did on his attempt in the 2006 Becher where he ran through beaten horses. With valuable course experience, he would have a live chance in April. Rose Of The Moon jumped beautifully in mid-division before looking one paced late on. This was probably due to lack of fitness and he is well worth another try over these fences.