Tag Archive for: Becher Chase preview

Becher Chase Pace Bias and Grand National Fence Experience Trends

The Becher Chase is a race I look forward to each year. It’s a great spectacle over the Grand National fences, there is less stamina guesswork than we have to do ahead of the Grand National itself and there are some clear pace and trend pointers, which I'll showcase below.

Becher Chase Pace Bias

Not all races run at Aintree over 3m2f are run over the Grand National course but many are, especially the bigger field races.

Not the biggest of samples but we see some very strong trends in this pace data. The win data isn’t completely reliable given the sample size but still we see a strong win percentage for front runners (10%) and the success rate gradually declines the further back in the field a horse is ridden until you get to held up, which has a win strike rate of just 3.76%.

Now in a sample size like this we need to pay a lot more attention to the place data as three to four times as many runners are contributing to the data set. The place data follows a very similar trend to the win data though with front runners once again coming out on top with a very tidy place percentage of 40%. There is a bit of a drop off between prominent and mid division at 26.17% and 20.48% respectively and then there is a similar drop off down to held up which has a place percentage of just 14.29%.

Front runners seem to enjoy far more of an advantage here than any other run style. Not only do the win and place stats back this up but front runners are also profitable to back blind, generating a Win PL of 3.5 and an EW PL of 10.5. Prominent racers are also profitable to back each way (EW PL of 7.67) but all other run styles are unprofitable to follow, again supporting the case that you want to be as close to the pace as possible here.

When you spot a pace bias like this it can be tempting to think you should only back those that race front rank but that’s not the case. Almost half of the winners in this sample have raced in mid division or the rear, but those run styles have provided many more runners and therefore many more opportunities. So whilst it is an advantage to be on the pace here, it’s by no means impossible to make up ground from the back.

Previous Grand National Fence Experience In The Becher

A previous run over the Grand National fences, particularly a good one, seems to be extremely important in this race.

An amazing 10 of the last 11 winners of the Becher Chase had previous experience over the Grand National course. Add to that the fact that 26 of the last 33 runners to finish in the first 3 in this had also previously run over the National fences and we see a very strong bias towards those who are in some shape or form proven over these obstacles.

So here we see an even stronger trend than the pace bias and in most years the winning tricast will be made up of runners that have previous experience here.

Becher Chase 2021 Preview

A very interesting race again this year with last year’s 1-2-3 all reopposing and taking on 19 other contenders.

The first thing I want to examine is previous course form, and I’ll be using Instant Expert to assist me.

Note that two of the runners (the David Pipe pair at the bottom of the weights) don’t appear in Instant Expert as they have both exclusively raced abroad to date. The pair are well out of the handicap and are the complete outsiders so it shouldn’t make much difference to exclude them anyway.

The course info is what I’m really after above but it’s worth remembering that this is for Aintree in general, not necessarily the Grand National course. These are the runners that have previously run over these fences and their form figures recorded here.

Mac Tottie 1
Kimberlite Candy 22PU
Chris’s Dream UR
Vieux Lion Rouge 7167920951F
Hogan’s Height 106
Le Breuil 73
Tout Est Permis PU
Lord Du Mesnil 9PU
Via Dolorosa 4
Didero Vallis 58

Now obviously a runner without previous National fence experience CAN win this race, and it seems this year more than ever there are some excellent contenders without that experience, but with a couple of bookies paying as many as 7 places on each way bets I’d rather be taking an each way price about one of the above.

So what about the pace for this race? Here is the pace map.

We know that front runners, and to a lesser degree prominent racers, can be favoured here even over the longer distances and with a pretty steady early gallop likely this probably won’t be the stamina test it could be and those that are patiently ridden could be at a disadvantage.

Lord Du Mesnil looks to be the main pace angle with Cobolobo and Via Dolorosa likely to track that runner. El Paso Wood could race prominently too based on his form in France but it’s difficult to predict given he now races for new connections.

You almost certainly don’t want to be in the rear of this field so Chris’s Dream, Domaine De L’Isle, Mighty Thunder and Achille could be amongst those most inconvenienced.

Now looking at the runners, the trio that filled the places last year seems a good place to start. Vieux Lion Rouge bounced back to form in this last year with a 24 length win, taking advantage of a declining handicap mark. Much of his best form is on very testing ground so it’s difficult to read much into an 18.5 length defeat on good ground over just less than 3 miles on seasonal reappearance with this clearly the target. He’s only 5lbs higher this time around so is impossible to rule out.

Kimberlite Candy followed him home and was runner up in the race for a second year running. The ground was probably a bit fast for him in the Grand National, which was his next start and a poor effort but he does need to prove his wellbeing here. He’ll appreciate any rain on Saturday but there are more likely winners in the field.

Le Breuil was third last year and he continues to frustrate. He’s difficult to catch right and ran very poorly on reappearance, plus he’s 4lbs out of the handicap. These fences have a habit of sparking life back into out of form runners and they’ll certainly need to here.

It’s no surprise to see Mac Tottie near the head of the betting after winning over these fences last time out. That victory came in the Grand Sefton last month. A 7lb rise for that effort isn’t too much given he should improve for the step back up in trip but softening ground is a slight concern. He has won on soft before but he’s generally considered a horse that is better on a slightly sounder surface.

Chris’s Dream makes some appeal on form. He may not have completed on his only run over these fences but he was going well enough when unseating in the Grand National and he had gone further than this trip when his race ended. He’s unlikely to be ideally placed in this though which is a concern given the likely pace setup.

Hogan’s Height and Tout Est Permis both have pieces of form to recommend them on but neither have the overall profiles to really appeal. Via Dolorosa ran well here last time behind Mac Tottie and he looked a bit of a natural over these obstacles. His stamina is a question mark though and he’s 6lbs out of the handicap.

Meanwhile Didero Vallis was disappointing on seasonal debut but he stays this far, the ground will be no problem and has has completed twice here, albeit well enough beaten on both occasions. If you can get the best of the each way terms he might offer a bit of value at a decent price (around 25/1).

The safest play though at what is still a fair price (7/1) might be Mac Tottie who is still on the up and perhaps he improved for the removal of the hood last time out. The step up in trip will suit and as long as the ground doesn’t get too testing he should go very well. Vieux Lion Rouge isn't a bad price at 12/1 given his record here, especially over trips shy of 4m which he doesn't seem to stay.

Of those without National fence experience Snow Leopardess looks an obvious one with pretty much everything in her favour. She should really appreciate this test but you never know if they’ll take to the fences until you’ve seen them.

Walk In The Mill Has Right Credentials For Hat Trick Bid

The Becher Chase is one of my favourite jumps races of the season and we look set for a cracker at Aintree on Saturday.

This article will run through some trends for this race, relevant form for each runner and of course many of the angles that are highlighted with a Geegeez Gold subscription.

Pace

Pace is an important factor in any race so let’s take a look at any potential pace bias in this race which could help narrow down the field:

Despite the long distance there is a clear indication that being near the pace is an advantage here at Aintree. It’s worth noting that not all of these races took place on the National course but many of them did and we see some very strong data.

The Win %, Win PL, Place % and IV all drop the further back in the field you are. The Place PL also follows a similar trend except 'Prominent' is slightly more profitable than 'Led' for that metric.

Now it’s worth noting that almost half the winners above have been either held up or have raced in mid division so we can’t simply put a line through those that are likely to be more patiently ridden but they’ve provided far more runners in the above data set and are clearly disadvantaged. Therefore we need to mark up those likely to be closer to the pace and mark down those who are likely to be held up.

The fact that almost half of front runners reach the frame suggests it’s not a bad strategy to simply back whichever front runner appears to have the best chance in this race.

Further credence is given to that strategy when you look at the data for this distance exclusively on soft ground.

The metrics for front runners fly up and the IV is huge 6.54. Front runners have a 37.5% win ratio and 62.5% place ratio. The sample is even smaller here so perhaps this data shouldn’t be taken completely at face value but soft ground certainly seems to benefit front runners even more than good ground does.

So which horses are likely to benefit from the pace bias, and which aren’t?

It looks likely that the pace will come from Yala Enki with Coo Star Sivola most likely to lead if Yala Enki doesn’t.

The immediate take away from this pace map, other than the fact that it’s likely to be front runner favouring lone speed, is that two of the leading contenders according to the market, Walk In The Mill and Le Breuil could be near the rear of the field.

Previous Experience Of The Fences

When it comes to the Grand National, some prefer the solid choice of previous experience over these fences and others prefer something that is unexposed over the famous obstacles.

When it comes to the Becher Chase it has certainly paid to follow Grand National fence form. A massive nine of the last ten winners had previously run on the Grand National course and twenty-three of the last thirty horses to finish in the first three had the same experience.

Now it’s worth remembering that in an ordinary year some of these that haven’t yet run here would have done so in April had we not lost the 2020 Grand National meeting to Covid so if there is a year this trend will be bucked it will probably be this year but this remains a noteworthy stat.

The runners in this year’s Becher Chase who have Grand National course experience are:

Kimberlite Candy
Le Breuil
Walk In The Mill
Ramses De Teilee
Minellacelebration
Vieux Lion Rouge
Joe Farrell

The runners without a run over these fences are:

Yala Enki
Calett Mad
Coo Star Sivola
Give Me A Copper
Smooth Stepper
Aso
Jett
Calipso Collonges

Race Fitness

Only four of these come here without a previous run this season. Is that a big deal?

Well three of the last ten winners have come here fresh and defied an absence which is a strong record given the majority of the field have usually had a prep. A lack of previous run this season certainly shouldn’t be seen as a big negative.

Once again Covid could have a slight effect here. Those who won here fresh had previously run in April but the fresh runners this year have not run since January at least which could have an impact.

Instant Expert

Instant Expert is an excellent tool for getting a quick insight into horse, trainer, jockey or sire performance across a number of relevant metrics. This is how the runners shape up from a place perspective here:

Calipso Collonges is particularly consistent on this ground but surprisingly Le Breuil, and a few other fancied runners, have a patchy record on soft ground.

The importance of course form has already been discussed and Walk In The Mill, Kimberlite Candy and Minellacelebration all do well here but it’s worth noting that Minellacelebration’s good runs at Aintree were on the Mildmay course and he ran poorly over this course in this race last season.

Le Breuil’s poor performance here across the board really stands out. He was beaten 20 lengths in this last season and is only 4lbs lower this time around. It’s difficult to make a case for him and he looks remarkably short with so many question marks.

Vieux Lion Rouge ticked a box having previously run at this course but also seems to have plenty of negatives against him, including a poor run in this last year.

From the place perspective Kimberlite Candy (from limited data), Walk In The Mill, Minellacelebration are all solid.

Narrowing it down with the win data:

It’s a lot harder to find positives when looking solely at win data but Walk In The Mill and Minellacelebration are once again relatively strong and it’s also worth noting that Give Me Copper is amongst the better scorers, albeit with limited data.

Further Analysis

We have to start with last year’s 1st and 2nd, Walk In The Mill and Kimberlite Candy.

Walk In The Mill, despite often being ridden patiently, has won this from mid division and from a prominent position in the past two years. He’s now 12lbs higher than when taking this two years ago and 8lbs higher than twelve months ago. He was also 4th in the 2019 Grand National so is clearly well at home here.

He was beaten 22 lengths and pulled up on his two prep runs for this race in the past so his recent run has once again followed suit and he’ll undoubtedly be primed for this. He wears cheekpieces for just the second time in his career, the first was in this last year when racing more prominently than he often does. The cheekpieces once again should give him a bit more extra early spark.

He beat Kimberlite Candy by 2.5 lengths last year giving Kimberlite Candy 4lbs. Kimberlite Candy has since won at Warwick by 10 lengths meaning he’ll now be 8lbs worse off with Walk In The Mill this time around.

Kimberlite Candy is the more lightly raced of the pair and should still have further improvement but with both at similar prices it’s difficult not to side with Walk In The Mill. Kimberlite Candy’s record first time out in the past four years is 1512 so his absence shouldn’t be much of a concern and he’s only raced twice in cheekpieces, finishing first and second in big races.

Ramses De Teillee has won three of his past five races and has finished runner up in a couple of big field chases. He should be well placed in this race and is proven in conditions and over staying trips. He was pulled up on his only try over these fences but he went okay for a long time and was eventually pulled up because the jockey’s reins had snapped. He certainly can't be ruled out.

He’s closely matched with Yala Enke, who he beat a short head last time out. Yala Enke is a pound better off and is another who should be well placed in this. He has no form over the National fences which is a slight put off and he appears to be a very dour stayer who could be one more for the Grand National itself if proving himself over the fences here.

Coo Star Sivola is yet another who should be suited by the run of the race but he also has never run over these fences before. He hasn’t run particularly well on his last three runs either so looks short enough.

Calett Mad stays very well and goes on any ground but has to defy an almost two year absence here. This may well be a sighter for the big one in April.

Give Me Copper was noted as performing well in Instant Expert and he comes here off the back of a wind op. He’s not the most consistent but he’s another who won’t be too far off the pace and he’s not completely handicapped out of this. If you fancy this one he may be more of a win only bet than each way despite the price.

Minellacelebration was the other very interesting runner from the view of Instant Expert. He won a handicap on the Mildmay course by 14 lengths back in October and has been raised 12lbs off the back of that. He seems to have improved from a wind op twelve months ago, possibly needing his next run but following that up with a second place and two wins. He did run poorly in this last year but that was just before his wind op and he’s otherwise won three from four at this venue and finished runner up in his other race. He did at least complete last year over these fences so if you can put that performance down to his wind he'd have a very good chance, for all he has to prove himself off this kind of mark.

The other runner worth a mention is Vieux Lion Rouge. He did score poorly in Instant Expert and ran poorly in this last year but he was second to Walk In The Mill two years ago and is now 18lbs better off. He hasn’t been at his best on his recent runs and was well beaten by Minellacelebration last time out so it’s entirely possible age is catching up with him now.

Verdict

Very unoriginal but the two most interesting runners here are two of the favourites, Walk In The Mill and Kimberlite Candy. The swing in the weights leaves two time winner Walk In The Mill the better handicapped of the pair.

Le Breuil seems much easier to take on and the best of the each way brigade seems to be the interesting Minellacelebration who does still have to prove himself over these fences and off this mark but he seems most likely to gatecrash the party if anything does.