LUCINDA Russell’s 2017 Grand National winner One For Arthur is one of 18 runners declared for tomorrow’s Randox Health Becher Chase at Aintree.
Injury has hampered the 10-year-old since his finest hour and he has been restricted to just four runs, but one of those saw him finish sixth to Tiger Roll in this year year’s National. Gordon Elliott’s Alpha Des Obeaux, a stablemate to Tiger Roll, will carry top weight as he drops into handicap company. He will have the assistance of champion jockey Richard Johnson.
Ballyoptic, winner of Wetherby’s Charlie Hall Chase last month, faces an easier task than on his last start a fortnight ago in the Betfair Chase when well beaten by Colin Tizzard, one of the ante-post favourites for the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Malton trainer Brian Ellison has opted to run Definitly Red in this contest in preference to the Many Clouds Chase on the same afternoon while Sue and Harvey Smith’s Vintage Clouds will be hoping to atone for his first-fence fall in the National.
Ben Pauling fields Cheltenham Festival winner Le Breuil while Vieux Lion Rouge represents David Pipe once more having won the race in 2016.
Last year’s Becher Chase hero, Walk In The Mill, As De Mee – a winner over the National fences before – and Mulcahys Hill also line up.
Michael Scudamore is looking forward to saddling Mysteree, who beat One For Arthur into fourth place when making a successful start to his campaign at Kelso in late October.
Scudamore sad: “It was probably a career-best performance at Kelso and he’s had a nice bit of time to freshen up since.
“He’s older than most horses taking on these fences for the first time, but it’s his sort of test as he jumps and stays and he actually showed a bit of speed at Kelso that we didn’t really think he had.
“He seems in great form and we’re as hopeful as you can be going into a race like this.”
Meanwhile Hollie Doyle became the winning-most female jockey in a calendar year in Britain when gaining her 107th success of 2019 on Class Clown at Southwell.
Doyle equalled Josephine Gordon’s tally of 106, which was achieved in 2017, at Wolverhampton on Saturday – and did not have to wait too long to overtake her friend and colleague, although she had agonisingly ridden three seconds on Wednesday.
Class Clown, trained at Thirsk by David Barron, took the Ladbrokes Where The Nation Plays Nursery Handicap by head following a thrilling battle.
“He’s a big baby, but the further we went the better he was,” Doyle told Sky Sports Racing.
“Two out I thought we’d get there nice and easy, but he had to work hard for it. Half a furlong out I didn’t think we’d get by, but the penny dropped eventually. I feel a bit emotional and really grateful. I’m just very lucky.”
Doyle, 23, became the third woman to reach a century in a year after Gordon and Hayley Turner when winning on The Perfect Crown at Chelmsford on November 21.
After bringing up the century, Doyle said her main aim for 2020 was to land a Group-race victory. She has already had five Listed winners, together with success at the Shergar Cup.
Defi Du Seuil, Politologue and Un De Sceaux are among eight runners declared for tomorrow’s Betfair Tingle Creek at Sandown.
The field, as expected, also includes Waiting Patiently from the Malton yard of Ruth Jefferson.