16 go in Betfred Grand Sefton Handicap Chase at Aintree tomorrow

Friday, December 5, 2014 – The Betfred Grand Sefton Handicap Chase (3.15pm), staged over an extended two miles and five furlongs of the Grand National course, has attracted 16 runners for its 2014 renewal which takes place at Aintree tomorrow, Saturday, December 6.

The £70,000 Betfred Grand Sefton Handicap Chase is one of two races over the Grand National fences tomorrow, alongside the feature £140,000 Grade Three Betfred Becher Handicap Chase (1.30pm), which yesterday attracted a record 25 declared runners.

Champion trainer Paul Nicholls is set to attempt a repeat victory with Rebel Rebellion (Ryan Mahon), who scored by half a length last year from Your Busy. He is 6/1 favourite with Betfred and, if successful, would become the first horse to win the Betfred Grand Sefton Chase twice since its revival in 2003.

Nicholls also saddles top-weight Rolling Aces (Nick Scholfield, 13/2), who was second in last season’s Grade One Betfred Melling Chase at the Crabbie’s Grand National Festival and fourth on his reappearance in the Grade Two Betfred Monet’s Garden Old Roan Chase at Aintree on October 25, both run over the Mildmay Course with its standard fences.

Champion Court (Martin Keighley/Ryan Hatch) is making his second appearance over the course and distance, having finished ninth behind Ma Filleule in the Crabbie’s Topham Chase in April.

The nine-year-old, who is a dual Grade Two scorer in chases, was last seen out when seventh to Caid Du Berlais in the Paddy Power Gold Cup over an extended two and a half miles at Cheltenham on November 15.

His trainer Martin Keighley said today: “Champion Court seems in really good form.

“He ran a big race in the Paddy Power. He didn’t quite get up the hill in ground that was really hard work but he was only beaten 12 lengths, so I was really pleased.

“The handicapper has dropped him a few pounds and I think he is on really competitive mark, especially as we have got Ryan Hatch taking off another 5lb.

“Ryan knows him well having ridden him at the Cheltenham Festival and that is why the owner wanted him. Hopefully, with a clear round, we should be thereabouts at the finish.”

Hunt Ball (Nicky Henderson/Andrew Tinkler, 9/1), a prolific winner in the 2011/12 season, ran well for a long way when unplaced in last season’s Crabbie’s Grand National, while the in-form Philip Hobbs team is represented by Persian Snow (Tom O’Brien, 10/1), who will be making his first appearance over the Grand National fences.

Another trainer in fine form so far this season is Warren Greatrex and his stable runs Dolatulo (Denis O’Regan, 11/1), who ran an encouraging race when second in a handicap chase at Sandown Park on November 8. Also on the 11/1 mark with Betfred is Bennys Mist (Venetia Williams/Liam Treadwell), who demonstrated his aptitude for the Grand National fences when runner-up in the Crabbie’s Topham Chase in April.

The Irish challenger is Orpheus Valley (Tom Gibney/Adrian Heskin, 33/1), successful in a valuable handicap chase at the Punchestown Festival in April.

Other interesting contenders include the lightly-raced Witness In Court (Donald McCain/Jason Maguire, 14/1) and Foundation Man (Jonjo O’Neill/Jason Maguire, 16/1), an impressive winner at Wetherby in October.

Betfred Grand Sefton Handicap Chase – Betfred bet: 6 Rebel Rebellion, 13/2 Rolling Aces, 9 Hunt Ball, 10 Persian Snow, 11 Champion Court, Dolatulo, Bennys Mist, 12 Bob Ford, 14 Witness In Court, Cedre Bleu, Up To Something, King Of The Wolds, 16 Foundation Man, 20 Poole Master, 33 Orpheus Valley, 50 Too Cool To Fool.
1/4 1-2-3-4. NRNB

Betfred Becher Chase Day is a seven-race card, getting underway at 12.00pm and running through to 3.15pm.

The £45,000 Listed Betfred “Racing’s Biggest Supporter” Chase (2.40pm) over three miles and a furlong of the Mildmay course is set to feature Holywell (Jonjo O’Neill/Richie McLernon) and Ma Filleule (Nicky Henderson/Daryl Jacob), who both triumphed at the Crabbie’s Grand National Festival in April.

Holywell took the Grade One Betfred Mobile Mildmay Novices’ Chase by 10 lengths, while Ma Filleule was one of the most impressive handicap winners of the season when storming to an eight-length victory in the Crabbie’s Topham Chase over the Grand National fences.

The pair also filled the first two places in the Baylis & Harding Affordable Luxury Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March, with Holywell coming out on top by a length and three quarters.

A small but high-class line up is completed by Sam Winner (Paul Nicholls/Nick Scholfield), who captured the valuable Grade Three Murphy Group Handicap Chase at Cheltenham on November 15, and Grade One Betfair Chase sixth Medermit (Alan King/Denis O’Regan).

#KatieWalshLive

Crabbie’s Grand National Ladies Day ambassador Katie Walsh will be working with the Aintree team on the day and take over the @AintreeRaces twitter feed for half an hour from 10.00am – 10.30am tomorrow. All racegoers and racing fans can ask Katie questions live by using #KatieWalshLive.

About the Betfred Becher Chase Day

A capacity crowd of 42,000 is expected for Betfred Becher Chase Day, with Aintree providing free access to the people of Merseyside who registered in advance. This shows the racecourse’s commitment and gratitude to the local community. The day will be packed with entertainment and first-class racing, with the initiative being supported by Racing UK and Merseyrail.

With the Crabbie’s Grand National only four months away, Aintree TV on December 6 will provide insight into the big race and there will be a “Punter’s Panel” with special guests looking ahead to not only the day’s racing, but providing pointers to the Crabbie’s Grand National Festival 2015, April 9-11.

Racegoers will also be able to buy 2015 Crabbie’s Grand National tickets cheaper than normal, with Aintree waiving the booking and postage fee of £7.50 on Betfred Becher Chase Day.

Betfred Becher Chase legend, Hello Bud, and Grand National winner, Neptune Collonges, will both be showcased on the day. Hello Bud won the Betfred Becher Chase in 2010 and 2012 and was ridden both times by Crabbie’s Grand National ambassador Sam Twiston-Davies, while Neptune Collonges was victorious in the 2012 Grand National. Both will both appear in the parade ring prior to the 2014 Betfred Becher Chase.

Aintree is having a side saddle display in the parade ring before racing starts. Side saddle is a form of equestrianism that uses a type of saddle which allows a rider to sit aside a horse. Sitting aside dates back to the 19th Century and is a retained specialty equestrian niche, even in the modern world. Amy Bryan-Dowell and Chloe Gunn, who regularly compete at side saddle, will lead the display.

The current Crabbie’s Grand National trophy will be on display in a trophy marquee opposite the Queen Mother Stand. Racegoers will be encouraged to have a picture taken with the trophy for £1, which will go to the featured charity of the day, The Walton Centre.

About Aintree Racecourse

Aintree is home to the Crabbie’s Grand National, the most famous horse race in the world which is the climax to a three-day Festival meeting in April every year. The racecourse hosts five other fixtures and is a leading conference centre in the north west of England. More information is available at aintree.thejockeyclub.co.uk

2015 will be the 168th running of the Grand National and the second year of the sponsorship by Halewood-owned Crabbie’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer.

Aintree Racecourse is part of The Jockey Club, which has been at the heart of British racing for more than 260 years. Today the largest commercial group in the sport, The Jockey Club runs the largest racecourse group in the UK by turnover (2013: £158.7m), courses (15) including those at Aintree, Cheltenham, Epsom Downs and Newmarket, attendances (2013: 1.7m), total prize money (2013: £41.6m), contribution to prize money (2013: £18.23m) and quality racing (Group and Graded races); more than 3,000 acres of world-class training grounds in Newmarket, Lambourn and Epsom Downs; The National Stud breeding enterprise and education provider; and the charity for racing’s people in need, Racing Welfare. Governed by Royal Charter, every penny The Jockey Club makes it puts back into British racing. More information is available at www.thejockeyclub.co.uk

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