20/1 Crosshue Boy for Saturday’s Becher Chase should be taken. Hasn’t raced at this long trip but risk more than built into the price which, I suspect, will be gone quite soon. Full blog on it this evening.
As with many big Saturday handicaps, the things you don’t know often have as much bearing on your selection as the things you do.
Has Blaklion recovered from that brutally hard race at Haydock in February? At 10/1 I’d be willing to pay to find out, but not at 4/1.
Will his stablemate Ballyoptic carry his steady improvement through from last season?
Ultragold reportedly comes alive when he sees the National fences, but does that reinvigoration have anything to do with springtime, which is the only season in which he has raced at Aintree? In February, March and April he’s won 4 from 11. In November, December and January he’s won 2 from 16.
And will he get the trip? Five runs above 2m6f have produced no victory.
How fit will the top class Don Poli be after 664 days off the track?
Will Missed Approach manage to stay upright?
Highland Lodge is aimed only at this race these days. His form figures for it are: 8123. How long can he hold out this time, with his 13th birthday a couple of weeks away?
And Highland Lodge’s trainer Jimmy Moffatt also has Just A Par in the race. That one used to be with Nicholls and completed in both Nationals he’s contested. He too is getting on (11) and hasn’t run for almost 600 days. But he’ll handle the ground and has a good chance of outrunning his big price. I’ll probably have a small saver on him.
I’m tempted too to save on Regal Flow who found his own secret recipe when combining long trips and heavy ground last season, following up an easy Taunton win with victory in the Midlands Grand National. At the time of writing the going is soft at Aintree with more rain to come. If it’s heavy on Saturday, I’ll have a pound or two on Regal Flow.
My main selection also has a key question to answer – has he the stamina to go with his usual fine jumping (touch wood)?
Crosshue Boy has never raced beyond 3 miles, and that was on good ground at Ayr in April when beating Dingo Dollar (who was conceding 12lbs) and 15 others.
He had a brilliant passage that day, whether by accident or design, creeping steadily through from a long way back to pass his last three rivals readily on the run in and win going away. He travelled sweetly through the whole race that day and if he can handle the trip here, I think he is well up to winning this.
Crosshue Boy is with a small yard in Ireland, that of Sean Thomas Doyle who has just five horses in training. Such ‘unfashionable’ connections always boost the price and on form I think he is seven or eight points too long.
Before his Ayr victory he’d been running really well, notching 3 in a row on heavy ground and a good 3rd in a two-miler. All of these were under his cool amateur Mister HD Dunne. David Mullins takes over in the Becher.
Back to the stamina riddle. His Sire Brian Boru has had, at the time of writing (Thursday), 279 runners at trips beyond 3 miles (33 and a half furlongs the farthest), 31 of which have won.
Brian Boru is the sire of Shotgun Paddy, who won over 3m 5f.
His dam Gluais Linn, had just one other foal, Noelleo, who ran once.
Crosshue Boy’s past record, and the way he travels, suggests more speed than stamina. But he impresses physically, in his straightforwardness, and when he passed the post at Ayr he looked to have quite a bit left.
We will find out on Saturday and at 20/1 (on Thursday) I was more than happy to pay to get the question answered. As I write, he can still be backed at 16/1. I thought he’d be 10/1 at best by now.
A fine race in prospect.