Grand Sefton Handicap Chase to be run at Aintree in November from now on

AINTREE’S Grand Sefton Handicap Chase, one of five races staged over the unique Grand National fences each season, will now be contested at the November meeting.

Hogan's Height and Tom Cannon clear the last in the 2019 Grand Sefton Chase at Aintree.

AINTREE’S Grand Sefton Handicap Chase, one of five races staged over the unique Grand National fences each season, will now be contested at the November meeting.

The two-mile-five-furlong contest has been run as part of the track’s December meeting since its revival in 2003, starring alongside the longer Becher Chase which is also run over the National fences.

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However, it will now move to a slot a month earlier, highlighting the November meeting at the renowned Merseyside track.

Aintree's Grand Sefton Chase, staged over the Grand National course, is being brought forward a month.

Aintree’s clerk of the course Sulekha Varma said: “By moving the Grand Sefton Handicap Chase forward a month, there are now three fixtures a year where the Grand National fences are utilised.

“We felt that the November meeting at Aintree lacked a highlight and this move should hopefully give it a boost.

“It always feels extra special at our fixtures when the famous Grand National fences are in use.

“We also hope that moving the Grand Sefton Handicap Chase forward a month will assist trainers in their planning for the Randox Grand National Festival.”

Trainer Jamie Snowden saddled Hogan’s Height to victory in the 2019 Grand Sefton and the Lambourn handler believes the switch will open up the option for successful horses to go on and contest the Becher a month later.

He said: “I think this is a sensible move, as it means that it will now be possible to run a horse in the Grand Sefton and then go on to the Becher the following month.

“Hogan’s Height is being aimed at the Grand Sefton once again.”

n DESERT Dreamer has York’s Lowther Stakes on her agenda as she seeks to end her sequence of Pattern class runner-up spots.

Stuart Williams’ filly was beaten just a neck in the Listed Empress Fillies’ Stakes in June, and then returned to Newmarket to fill the same position behind Sandrine in the Group Two Duchess of Cambridge Stakes.

The Group Three Princess Margaret Stakes was her next and most recent engagement, at Ascot last month, and again Desert Dreamer was beaten only a neck by Ismail Mohammed’s Zain Claudette.

The two fillies are due to cross paths once more at the Ebor Festival.

n TIM Easterby’s sprinter Staxton will bid to defend William Hill Great St. Wilfrid Handicap Stakes – Ripon’s feature race of the year – on Saturday week.

“Staxton is very well and in good form, we know he loves the track and the race has been the aim for him,” said the in-form Great Habton trainer. “He’s 4lb higher than he was last year but we’re certainly hopeful he’ll have a good chance again.”

The last 11 winners of the prestigious heritage handicap, staged over six furlongs and in front of the ITV cameras, have been trained in Yorkshire, with Easterby keen to maintain this dominance.