Aintree announce Sefton switch

Aintree’s Grand Sefton Handicap Chase, one of five races staged over the famous Grand National fences each season, will now be contested in November.

The two-mile-five-furlong contest has been run as part of the track’s December meeting since its revival in 2003, starring alongside the longer Becher Chase which is also run over the National fences.

However, it will now move to a slot a month earlier, highlighting the November meeting at the track.

Aintree’s clerk of the course Sulekha Varma said: “By moving the Grand Sefton Handicap Chase forward a month to the November meeting there are now three fixtures a year where the Grand National fences are utilised, with the Becher Handicap Chase following at the December meeting and then the three contests at Randox Grand National Festival in April.

“We felt that the November meeting at Aintree lacked a highlight and this move should hopefully give it a boost. It always feels extra special at our fixtures when the famous Grand National fences are in use and it is exciting that the Grand Sefton Handicap Chase will now have its own billing.

“By having the opportunity to run a horse over the Grand National fences at a different time of year, we also hoping that moving the Grand Sefton Handicap Chase forward a month will assist trainers in their planning for the Randox Grand National Festival.”

Trainer Jamie Snowden saddled Hogan’s Height to victory in the 2019 Grand Sefton and the Lambourn handler believes the switch will open up the option for horses to go on and contest the Becher.

He said: “I think this is a sensible move, as it means that it will now be possible to run a horse in the Grand Sefton and then go on to the Becher the following month.

“I wonder if the possibility of having a bonus for a horse that can win the Grand Sefton, Becher and Grand National could ever be an option in the future.

“Hogan’s Height is being aimed at the Grand Sefton once again and I am also considering the race as an option for Thomas Macdonagh.”

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