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Excitement grows for Aintree showdownPosted on Thursday 7th December 2017 @ 10.43

Aintree will come alive on Saturday for the Becher Chase and an exciting field full of big names will fight for the prize.

The 3m 2f race is an early season trial for the Grand National and is named after Martin Becher of Becher's Brook fame. This Grade 3 contest comes with a prize purse of £140,000 and it has attracted several leading lights from across the National Hunt scene. Twenty-four have confirmed and that includes last year’s winner, Vieux Lion Rouge, runner-up Highland Lodge and third placed The Last Samurai. However, Blaklion is the favourite after finishing fourth in the 2017 Grand National and enjoying a strong season debut this time around.

Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies has won this race five times and Blaklion could well make it six on Saturday. He finished just a length behind Bristol De Mai in his season reappearance, an excellent achievement when you consider that Bristol De Mai won the Betfair Chase by 57 lengths from Cue Card last month. But this is a field packed with talent. Research betting websites before placing action and you will find seven runners clustered around the 10/1 to 12/1 mark.

Highland Lodge, who won the race in 2015 and was second last year, carries 10st 5lbs and trainer Jimmy Moffatt is extremely positive about his chances on Saturday. “He's in great form,” said Moffatt. “He’s had exactly the same preparation as last year and he’s going every bit as well. I've no doubts in my mind about that whatsoever. He’s really come alive in the last two or three weeks and his wind-up gallop on Saturday was probably one of the best pieces of work I've seen him do. I couldn’t be happier with him. This has been his long-range target so he's been in since the end of July. He’s had a good long steady build-up.”

Highland Lodge is as long as 16/1 with various bookmakers but is attracting a lot of attention from the betting public, as is Viva Steve at the same price. He has already gone in from 25/1 and the odds could continue to plummet as he has been well tipped after finishing fourth at the Kerry National in Listowel earlier this season.

Paul Nicholls believes the race is well suited to As De Mee, another runner that is around the 10/1 to 14/1 mark. There are plenty of contenders, but Blaklion still dominates the betting and almost half of the action has gone on him. The eight-year-old bay gelding has won eight times in 23 career starts, but has not secured victory since March 2016, when he won the Grade 1 RSA Chase at Cheltenham. Since then he has gone close a couple of times, and he has placed in 14 of his 23 races, but he is well overdue a win.

But another horse in with a strong chance is The Last Samurai, who finished second here last year and is often there or thereabouts in endurance tests. He finished second on his season debut at Kempton and trainer Kim Bailey said: "It was a good run at Kempton and, provided he is in the same sort of form as he is now in two weeks’ time, he should have a very good chance. We will get the Becher Chase out the way first before deciding where we go for the rest of the season."

That is not exactly fighting talk from Bailey, but The Last Samurai has the ability to make a splash in this race and could be an interesting each-way option, but he has to overcome carrying top weight.

Article Posted on Thursday 7th December 2017 @ 10.43

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Starting Gate

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naas Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Handicap 5f - £9240 - Good to Firm

1 Aurora Eclipse6/1

2 Dandyman Port9/1

3 Abamanova8/1

4 Aspen Belle2/1

5 Little Clarinet11/1

6 Clare Island16/1

7 Snow Patch6/1

8 Rapid Reaction5/1

nottingham 188Bet Cash Back Kane First Goal Confined Handicap 5f 8y - £3781 - Good to Firm (Watered)

1 Tilly Trotter14/1

2 Gnaad6/1

3 Bashiba3/1

4 Tylery Wonder11/2

5 Fethiye Boy12/1

6 Tallinski11/2

7 Seamster11/1

8 Desert Sport6/1

9 Defining Moment14/1

10 You're Cool12/1

11 Penny Dreadful7/1

windsor Sky Bet Price Boosts EBF Stallions Novice Stakes 5f 21y - £3752 - Good to Firm (Good in places)

1 Clevedon66/1

2 He'zanarab7/1

3 Jack Louie50/1

4 Nefarious3/1

5 Sophosc50/1

6 Angel Mead66/1

7 Esque Amore40/1

8 Implicit11/8

9 Improvising8/1

10 Nananita25/1

11 Oona9/2

12 Sister's Act100/1

13 Starchant150/1

naas Midsummer Sprint Stakes (Listed) 5f - £26550 - Good to Firm

1 Mirza17/2

2 Son Of Rest2/1

3 Brick By Brick13/2

4 Accalia100/1

5 Snowstar8/1

6 Dali5/2

7 True Blue Moon5/1

8 Verhoyen66/1

nottingham Enhanced World Cup Specials At 188Bet Fillies' Handicap 5f 8y - £5628 - Good to Firm (Watered)

1 Puds7/4

2 Formidable Kitt9/2

3 Seen The Lyte7/2

4 Kodiac Express4/1

5 Wirral Girl12/1

6 Meerpat10/1

windsor Sky Bet Best Odds Guaranteed Selling Stakes 6f 12y - £3752 - Good to Firm (Good in places)

1 Anthem of Peace66/1

2 Coach Party50/1

3 Irene's Prince11/4

4 The Fluter66/1

5 Wolf Hunter11/8

6 Associate Rock40/1

7 Blasim12/1

8 Knockabout Queen4/1

9 Red Handed10/1

10 Smokey's Angel50/1

11 Spirit Of Society50/1

naas Follow Naas Racecourse On Twitter Apprentice Handicap (45-65) 5f - £6160 - Good to Firm

1 Coto11/2

2 Haqeeba10/1

3 Lily's Prince7/1

4 Ahundrednotout33/1

5 Sweetest Taboo13/2

6 Blastofmagic11/1

7 Clebourne8/1

8 Jenniechild12/1

9 Very Smart16/1

10 Landline16/1

11 Chosen Rock33/1

12 Approbare12/1

13 Rimshot12/1

14 Logarithm33/1

15 Hot Stuff50/1

16 Kings Of Luxor6/1

17 Red All Star10/1

18 Sarah Ash Calum33/1

nottingham 188Bet Royal Ascot Extra Places Handicap1m 2f 50y - £6469 - Good to Firm (Watered)

1 Dark Devil11/4

2 Medalla De Oro4/1

3 Bakht A Rawan11/4

4 Perfect Quest6/1

5 Ourmullion10/3

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WindsorSky Bet Extra Place Races Apprentice Handicap

11Tiar Na Nog11/4 jf
23Settle Petal7/1
32Kath's Legacy11/4 jf
Winning TrainerD J Coakley
Winning JockeyHarry Burns
Runners9 ran
Distances3/4 length, 2 1/2 lengths
Tote Win£3.10
Pl£1.30, £1.80, £1.50
EX£18.10
Trifecta
CSF£23.09
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NottinghamTunisia V England Betting At 188Bet Fillies' Novice Auction Stakes (Plus 10)

18Quiet Waters9/2
21Delft Dancer11/4
33Arctic Spirit9/2
Winning TrainerArchie Watson
Winning JockeyEdward Greatrex
Runners8 ran
Distances2 lengths, 1/2 length
Tote Win£6.00
Pl£1.70, £2.20, £1.40
EX£16.90
Trifecta£56.70
CSF£15.76
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NaasIrish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Maiden (Plus 10)

18Lethal Promise4/11 f
25Fantasy6/1
39Third Of March25/1
Winning TrainerW McCreery
Winning JockeyW J Lee
Runners8 ran
Distances6 1/2 lengths, 1 1/4 length
Tote Win£1.20
Pl£1.02, £1.40, £6.10
EX£3.60
Trifecta£36.60
CSF£3.60
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CarlisleThursby Handicap

14Akamanto5/2
22Regal Mirage9/5
37Omotesando14/1
Winning TrainerR M Smith
Winning JockeyBen Curtis
Runners7 ran
Distances1 1/2 length, 1 1/4 length
Tote Win£4.10
Pl£3.10, £1.50
EX£8.30
Trifecta£50.50
CSF£7.15
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AyrFundraising Ideas At ayrshirecs.org Handicap (Lady Amateur Riders)

14Berlios9/4 f
27Cheeni16/1
33Munthany5/2
Winning TrainerRebecca Bastiman
Winning JockeyMiss Becky Smith
Runners8 ran
Distances2 3/4 lengths, 2 3/4 lengths
Tote Win£3.00
Pl£1.10, £2.40, £1.40
EX£30.30
Trifecta£52.70
CSF£37.21
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CarlisleWatch Racing UK On 3 Devices Handicap

11Ad Libitum2/1 f
24Poetic Steps10/3
37Claramara33/1
Winning TrainerRoger Fell
Winning JockeyT Hamilton
Runners8 ran
Distances4 lengths, Head
Tote Win£2.80
Pl£1.30, £1.60, £5.60
EX£10.10
Trifecta£180.60
CSF£8.72
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AyrAyrshire Cancer Support Here To Help Handicap

19Wor Lass3/1
25Ingleby Hollow9/4
311Braes Of Lochalsh6/1
Winning TrainerD W Whillans
Winning JockeyRachel Richardson
Runners8 ran
DistancesShort Head, 1 1/4 length
Tote Win£3.20
Pl£1.20, £1.70
EX£11.90
Trifecta£42.90
CSF£9.51
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CarlisleBritish Stallion Studs EBF Fillies' Handicap

18Harvest Day5/1
23Kalagia11/4
37Dalawyna17/2
Winning TrainerM W Easterby
Winning JockeyNathan Evans
Runners7 ran
Distances1/2 length, Neck
Tote Win£5.40
Pl£2.30, £2.80
EX£19.90
Trifecta£94.80
CSF£18.12
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