Every year as winter tightens its grip, the racing world sets its sights on Liverpool, England, and the grand spectacle of the Becher Chase.
Set against the iconic backdrop of Aintree Racecourse, the Becher Chase offers an electrifying contest for racing enthusiasts and a significant precursor to the world-renowned Grand National.
The Becher Chase and the Grand National share more than just a venue; they are intertwined in a rich tapestry of racing history.
Named after Captain Martin Becher, who took an unfortunate tumble into the now-infamous Becher’s Brook during the inaugural Grand National, the Becher Chase is a challenging steeplechase that mimics many of the rigours of the Grand National.
This annual event is more than just a prelude; it’s a great race that showcases the mettle of horses and riders in preparation for the ultimate steeplechase challenge.
When Is It On In 2023?
The Boylesports Becher Chase will take place on Saturday, December 9th 2023 at Aintree Racecourse.
It is part of the wider day’s racing but is definitely the biggest race at the meeting.
Run over a distance of 3m2f and with 21 fences, it may be shorter than the Grand National but it is just as tough.
So tough in fact, that only four horses have ever won it twice and only one of them, Walk In The Mill, won it in back-to-back races in 2018 and 2019.
2023 Becher Chase Odds & Betting
The race is scheduled to commence at 14:05 (Aintree). Heading into this year’s competition, Ashtown Lad, Percussion, and The Big Breakaway are topping the odds at Betfred.
PLUS: Betfred is now offering an extra each-way place. They paying 4 Places instead of 3 for each way bets at 1/5 the odds on this race.
Below you can see a full list of runners and their odds.
|The Big Breakaway||8/1|
|Now Where Or When||12/1|
* odds updated 08/12/23
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Aintree Racecourse: The Iconic Home of the Becher Chase
Aintree Racecourse, situated in Liverpool, England, is renowned for its illustrious history and challenging course design, making it one of the world’s premier locations for steeplechase racing.
Not only is it the proud host of the Becher Chase, but it’s also home to one of the most famous races in the world – the Grand National.
Aintree is a track steeped in history. It has hosted races since 1829, standing as a testament to the enduring popularity of horse racing in the UK.
The Grand National has been run at Aintree since 1839, and the Becher Chase has called Aintree home since its inception in 1992.
A unique feature of Aintree is its Grand National course, known for its challenging fences.
The Becher Chase is run over these famous fences, providing a preview of the spectacle that the Grand National will offer later in the season.
Each of the twenty-one fences that horses must navigate in the Becher Chase demands precision and courage, with iconic obstacles such as Becher’s Brook and The Chair proving decisive in many races.
Beyond the course itself, Aintree offers a festive atmosphere that draws in spectators from all walks of life.
Racing days at Aintree are social occasions as much as they are sporting events, with the track offering various hospitality options and entertainment for attendees.
Not every horse can handle the taxing distance and demanding fences of Aintree, but a select few have proved their mettle in both the Becher Chase and Grand National.
Among the greats, one name stands tall: Amberleigh House. Trained by the celebrated Ginger McCain, who also trained four-time Grand National winner Red Rum, Amberleigh House showed his talent in 2001 when he won the Becher Chase.
But his crowning glory came in 2004, when he returned to Aintree and triumphed in the Grand National, showing a turn of foot at the end that left the spectators in awe.
Another horse to mention is Silver Birch, who was victorious in the Becher Chase in 2004. Showing remarkable consistency and endurance, Silver Birch returned to Aintree to win the Grand National in 2007 under trainer Gordon Elliott.
Earth Summit is yet another who etched his name into Aintree folklore by winning both races in the same season.
After winning the Becher Chase in 1998, he returned to Aintree a few months later to win the Grand National, proving he was a true master of the challenging course.
But there’s one horse who has outshone them all – Vieux Lion Rouge. From trainer David Pipe, the 2016 & 2020 Becher Chase winner ran in six consecutive Becher Chases from his first in 2016 all the way through to 2021.
In between, he also managed to run in FIVE Grand Nationals and is easily one of the most experienced horses around the course in recent times.
The 2022 Becher Chase: Ashtown Lad’s Resounding Victory
Ashtown Lad (5-1) continued the stunning winning streak of the Skelton stable.
The eight-year-old, trained by Dan Skelton and ridden by his brother Harry, took the feature race in resounding style, hinting at a future tilt at the Randox Grand National.
Ashtown Lad’s victory followed recent successes by the Skelton stable, including Protektorat’s Grade One Betfair Chase triumph at Haydock Park and Le Milos’ victory in the Coral Gold Cup Handicap Chase.
It marked Skelton’s first success over the major Aintree obstacles, extending an incredible winning run.
Despite concerns over his stamina, given his fifth-place finish in the Coral Scottish Grand National at Ayr, Ashtown Lad showed his mettle at Aintree.
The race unfolded with Harry Skelton keeping Ashtown Lad well-placed just off the pace set by Dr Kananga, then Cloth Cap.
As Dr Kananga faded, Ashtown Lad made his move, keeping Gesskille, a horse who had also run well in last month’s Grand Sefton Chase, at bay.
Ashtown Lad crossed the finish line two-and-a-quarter-lengths ahead of the 4-1 favourite. Percussion (10-1) finished third, Fortescue (33-1) and Five Star Getaway took fourth and fifth, and Cloth Cap in sixth.
After the race, Dan Skelton lauded his horse’s performance, appreciating how Ashtown Lad tackled the jumps.
Despite some reservations about the longer distance, he hinted at the Grand National as a potential next step for the horse.