It is Becher Chase Day at Aintree on Saturday, with a card that also features a Gold Cup trial in the Many Clouds Chase. Keith Melrose from the Racing Post picks out his best bets on the card.
The Grade 2 Many Clouds Chase at 1.30 sees the return of Grand National hero Noble Yeats to this famous Merseyside layout in what looks a tough assignment for Emmet Mullins' contender.
1pt each-way (six places)
Ahoy Senor's Aintree record reads: two runs, two Grade 1 wins. He goes for the hat-trick in the Grade 2 Many Clouds Chase and in other circumstances he would be comfortably odds on.
The main reason he is not is because of a shocking run in the bet365 Charlie Hall at Wetherby when he was last seen.
It seems a weak defence, but in all truth it is to his credit that it took him so long to throw in a shocker, given he is not the most straightforward ride and an exuberant but often careless jumper - at least anywhere bar Aintree.
None of the opposition would have the class to have spent the summer at single-figure odds for the Gold Cup. They are all handicappers except Chantry House, who still has it to prove as a Grade 1 horse in open company.
It is fancied that a couple of the graduating handicappers, notably Sounds Russian and Noble Yeats, could give Ahoy Senor the most to think about. But he still deserves to be odds on to beat them at a track where he tends to look truly top class.
There is a rick in the Becher. How anyone can watch the Grand Sefton over 2m5f on the National Course four weeks ago and believe third-placed Percussion should be four times the odds of runner-up Gesskille is beyond me.
Gesskille's form, mostly in hunter chases and older-horse races in France, is seen by some as mysterious, but those races are rarely as strong as they look on paper.
Percussion is bred to be a staying chaser, he won on the bit on his last run over 3m, and he shaped more like a stayer in the Grand Sefton having taken well to the National fences.
Furthermore, Percussion is actually 3lb lower now as he was out of the weights in the Grand Sefton.
Incidentally, Gesskille is 4lb higher so the selection gets a 7lb pull for an eight-length beating. He was 40-1 that day, so is expected to come on for the run and his canny trainer Laura Morgan is overdue her breakthrough in top handicaps.
Whether it is with this horse or not, bet365 are offering six places on the Becher and he is extremely attractive each-way on those terms.
The following 2m4f handicap on the Mildmay course is competitive enough, without being red-hot.
It looks to have a bit of a false favourite in Riders Onthe Storm, who won the Old Roan over course and distance last time but is not the sort of horse to put your faith in holding his form. Brian Hughes worked wonders to keep him interested for the five minutes it took to run the Old Roan.
Behind him in the betting are a couple of progressive two-milers, Brave Seasca and Gunsight Ridge. It is fancied that the former has more chance of benefiting from the longer trip.
He won some warm 2m handicaps last season before coming up just short against top novices in the Kingmaker at Warwick.
He looked a little shy of pace that day and is bred to stay beyond 2m, so this is an opportune time for this sound jumper (his fall in the Arkle was a blip) to step up in distance, especially considering the form of the Venetia Williams stable.