Becher Chase  

North West Masters



Mr Pointment on Grand National Trail

1st 2 Mr Pointment 15/2
2nd 6 Bewleys Berry 11/2
3rd 16 Pak Jack 18/1
4th 10 Le Duc 16/1

Mr Pointment jumped his way to the head of the market for the John Smith’s Grand National (April 5, 2008) with a superb front-running display to win the highlight of day two of the Northwest Racing Masters, the £100,000 Becher Chase over the Grand National course at Aintree.

Returned at 15/2, Mr Pointment was soon in front and jumped brilliantly throughout, staying on gamely to repel the challenge of Bewleys Berry by a length.

This was a third Becher Chase winner for trainer Paul Nicholls following on from Silver Birch (2004) and Eurotrek (2006). It also capped a perfect Northwest Racing Masters for Nicholls and jockey Sam Thomas, following the combination’s victory with Kauto Star in yesterday’s £200,000 Betfair Chase at Haydock.

Paul Nicholls said: “I really fancied him today.

“Ruby (Walsh) said when he got off him at Cheltenham last month that the Becher was the race for him.

“He was sent to me by the owners after being with Charles Egerton.

“He is a horse that needs to be fresh and it wouldn’t worry me if he didn’t run again before the National. He could have a run over hurdles but I don’t think he will go over fences again before April.

“This horse is the first real proper National horse I have had in that he is relatively unexposed, having only had five chases in his life. He is so game and jumps so well.

“He jumps huge when he is schooled and jumps slightly to the left which is perfect around Aintree.

“There is only one race for him now - the Grand National - roll on.”

“It has been a brilliant weekend, the same as last year in that we won the Betfair Chase with Kauto Star and then a Becher Chase.”

Sam Thomas added: “This weekend really has been a dream a true come true and today was just the icing on the cake.

“I thought Mr Pointment had a good chance today if he handled the fences - you never quite know when horses run over these fences for the first time.

“I promise you, you will not find a better ride over these fences.

“Early on, he was a bit keen but he then settled well in front. Being in front is often the best place to be around here, he just did his own thing. His jumping has really helped him today.”

Reflecting on the best-ever two days of his career, Thomas added: “It hasn’t really sunk in yet.

“I have five rides tomorrow at Ludlow and so maybe I will have a bit of a party in the middle of the week!”

Mr Pointment has a connection with the North West, being owned by Warrington-based Stockton Heath Racing.

totesport make Mr Pointment 16/1 co-favourite along with Bewleys Berry and Butler’s Cabin for the 2008 John Smith’s Grand National. The eight-year-old is also a 16/1 chance with Blue Square, Ladbrokes and Paddy Power, while William Hill go 20/1 for the world’s greatest chase on April 5.


Bewleys Berry may have fallen at Bechers second time around in the John Smith’s Grand National, but he seems to have suffered no ill effects as he finished runner-up to Mr Pointment in the Becher Chase.

Howard Johnson, trainer of Bewleys Berry, said: “He doesn’t want the ground as dead as that and would prefer better ground. He won’t go chasing again until the John Smith’s Grand National weights come out although he might have a run in a hurdle.

“Hopefully, the handicapper will put ours up 1lb and the winner 11lb - he should do as they have won the race!

“We could have Theatre Knight for the National as well as he wants four miles and we’ll get it one day!”

Bewleys Berry’s owner Graham Wylie added: “He jumped very well and we were a little bit concerned how he would come back after he fell in this year’s National.

“But he jumped well and I’m pleased as he seemed to enjoy it and loved it.”

Totesport make Bewleys Berry’s a 16/1 shot for the National (from 20), while Ladbrokes go 16/1 about the nine-year-old, Paddy Power trimmed him into 20/1 (from 25) and William Hill did likewise.

Richard Phillips, trainer of third-placed Pak Jack, really wants to run his charge in the Grand National, but has the headache of whether the Pitchounet gelding will get into the race.

He said: “I am really pleased with him. People think that he is a two-miler but he is really good around here and jumps.

“I think that he would jump around in the National and the plan is to come back for that.

“I need to try and get him up the weights and I am one of the few people to want their horse to go up! Perhaps I should send Phil Smith [official handicapper] a bottle of champagne for the wrong reason!

“The Aintree factor comes in with some horses and they should let those in that jump the course well. He has a genuine chance of being placed in a National and I am really pleased with him.” BECHER HANDICAP CHASE (LISTED RACE)

3m 2f Grand National For 5yo+ Minimum Weight 10st Penalties after November 17th, a winner of a chase 3lb (no penalty to increase a horse's weight above 11st 12lb)

1. MR POINTMENT (Stockton Heath Racing) Paul Nicholls 8-11-05 Sam Thomas 15/2
2. BEWLEYS BERRY (Andrea & Graham Wylie) Howard Johnson 9-10-11 Denis O'Regan 11/2 JF
3. PAK JACK (The Bellflower Pak Jack Partnership) Richard Phillips 7-10-03 Richard Johnson 18/1
4. LE DUC (The Stewart Family) Paul Nicholls 8-10-06 Joe Tizzard 16/1
5. A NEW STORY (Storey’s Over Syndicate) Michael Hourigan IRE 9-09-13 Mr J J Doyle (5)
6. IRISH RAPTOR (Caroline Beresford-Wylie) Nigel Twiston-Davies 8-10-05 Paddy Brennan
7. TOMMY SPAR (Ralph Morgans) Peter Bowen 7-10-08 Peter Buchanan
F 1st LEADING MAN (Mrs C McKeane) Ferdy Murphy 7-10-01 Graham Lee 11/2 JF
UR 3rd KANDJAR D'ALLIER (Let’s Live Racing) Alan King 9-10-11 Robert Thornton
F 4th KING KILLONE (Hogarth Racing) Harry Hogarth 7-10-03 Phil Kinsella (3)
UR 6th BRIERY FOX (Vicky Reed, Helen Plumly, Jane Trafford) Henry Daly 9-10-06 Mark Bradburne
UR 6th SILVER JACK (Mrs J Batey) Martin Todhunter 9-10-00 Brian Harding
P before 9th BALLYCASSIDY (Roddy Owen & Paul Fullager) Peter Bowen 11-10-10 Tom O'Brien
F Becher’s IRON MAN (Roddy Owen & Paul Fullager) Peter Bowen 6-11-09 Paddy Merrigan (3)
F Becher’s DUNBRODY MILLAR (Dundon Else Partnership) Peter Bowen 9-10-05 Jamie Moore
UR 11th ROYAL AUCLAIR (Clive Smith) Paul Nicholls 10-10-11 Liam Heard (3)
F 12th AKA JAKE (Tom Nagle Jnr) Tom Nagle Jnr IRE 8-9-11 Joey Elliott (3)
UR 15th GARVIVONNIAN (Angela Long) Ned Mitchell IRE 12-10-06 Martin Ferris (5)
UR 4 out I HEAR THUNDER (Nick Elliott) Bob Buckler 9-10-05 Daryl Jacob

19 ran Time 6m 58.9s
Distances: 1, 19, 3, 1, 20, 27
Breeder: Miss A Gibson Fleming & Mrs E Cooper Breeding: bg Old Vic - Bettyhill
Tote Win: £8.90 Tote Place: £2.60,£2.20,£3.80,£3.70 Exacta: £59.60

Winning Trainer: PAUL NICHOLLS Date of birth: 17/05/62 Based: Heighes House, Manor Farm Stables, Ditcheat, Shepton Mallet, Somerset Date of first trainer’s licence: 01/11/91 Previous Occupation: Professional jockey 1980-89. Rode 130 winners including Hennessy Gold Cup (1986 & 87), Irish Gold Cup (1988), Welsh Grand National (1987) Aintree Festival Wins include: John Smith’s Maghull Novices’ Chase (1999 Flagship Uberalles, 2002 Armaturk, 2003 Le Roi Miguel, 2007 Twist Magic), John Smith’s Melling Chase (2001 Fadalko), John Smith’s Mildmay Novices’ Chase (2006 Star De Mohaison), Citroen C4 Mersey Novices’ Hurdle (2006 Natal), John Smith’s Fox Hunter Chase (2002 Torduff Express), Betfair Bowl (2000 See More Business) Cheltenham Festival Wins (17): Irish Independent Arkle Novices’ Chase (1999 Flagship Uberalles, 2003 Azertyuiop), Queen Mother Champion Chase (1999 Call Equiname, 2004 Azertyuiop), totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup (1999 See More Business, 2007 Kauto Star), Christie’s Foxhunter Chase (2004 Earthmover, 2005 Sleeping Night), Johnny Henderson Grand Annual (2004 St Pirran, 2007 Andreas), County Hurdle (2004 Sporazene, 2006 Desert Quest), Ryanair Chase (2005 Thisthatandtother, 2007 Taranis), Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (2006 Noland), Royal & SunAlliance Chase (2006 Star De Mohaison, 2007 Denman) Other big race wins: Aon Chase (2000 See More Business, 2001 Shotgun Willy, 2003 Valley Henry, 2007 Kauto Star), Betfair Chase (2007 & 2006 Kauto Star), Betfred Gold Cup (2001 & 2003 Ad Hoc), Brit Insurance Novices’ Hurdle (2006 Neptune Collonges), Bula Hurdle (2003 Rigmarole), Challow Novices’ Hurdle (2003 Cornish Rebel, 2006 Denman), Charlie Hall Chase (1999 and 2000 See More Business), totesport Classic Chase (2006 Eurotrek, 2007 Ladalko), Desert Orchid H’cap Chase (2000 Fadalko, 2002 Valley Henry), Feltham Novices’ Chase (1993 See More Indians), Game Spirit Chase (2000 lagship Uberalles, 2005 Azertyuiop), Greatwood Hurdle (2003 Rigmarole), Independent Newspaper Novices’ Chase (1995 Captain Khedive, 1999 Fadalko, 2002 Azertyuiop, 2003 Thisthatandtother), King George VI Chase (1997, 1999 See More Business, 2006 Kauto Star), Leamington Novices’ Hurdle (2006 Be Be King), Mitsubishi Shogun Ascot Chase (2000 Rockforce), Scottish Champion Hcap Hurdle (1999 Fadalko), Rehearsal Chase (1996 Belmont King, 1997 and 1998 See More Business), Pendil Novices’ Chase (2006 Napolitain, 2007 Natal), Peterborough Chase (2004 Le Roi Miguel), Pillar Chase (1998, 2001 See More Business), Scottish Grand National (1997 Belmont King), Tingle Creek Chase (2005 Kauto Star), Tolworth Hurdle (2003 Thisthatandtother, 2006 Noland, 2007 Silverburn), becher Chase (2006 Eurotrek), Vodafone Gold Cup (2006 Cornish Sett), Coral Welsh National (2004 Silver Birch, 2005 L’Aventure), William Hill Haldon Gold Cup Chase (1998 Lake Kariba, 1999 Flagship Uberalles, 2004 Azertyuiop), Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase (2007 Gungadu) 1000th Domestic Winner: Noble Action (Bumper, Folkestone, November 15, 2004) First Trainer to Saddle Six Winners on One Card: Saturday, January 21, 2006, at Wincanton Number of Winners (1992/03-2006/07): 20; 29; 28; 53; 56; 82; 110; 71; 83; 136; 152; 127; 152; 148; 124 Wins this Season: 37

Winning Jockey: Sam Thomas Born: June 22, 1984 Background: The son of a maths teacher from Abergavenny, South Wales. Rode in point to points and spent one year with David Evans before moving to Venetia Williams’ stable, where he has been since training at the British Racing School. Big Race Wins: Betfair Chase ( 2007 Kauto Star), Amlin 1965 Chase (2006 Cerium); Paddy Power Amateur Riders Handicap Chase (2003 Its Onlyme - last ride as amateur); Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle (20004 Limerick Boy); Pendil Novices’ Chase (2005 Limerick Boy); First Winner Under Rules: Indian Sun (Western Wines Selling Hurdle, Ludlow, April 2, 2003) First Professional Winner: I Tina (G D Environmental Services Selling Hurdle, Chepstow, November 26, 2003) Wins (2002/03-2006/07): 1; 47; 55; 55; 73 Wins This Season: 27

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