Betfred Becher Chase
Grade 3 Handicap, Aintree 13:30
£140,000 added,
6yo plus,
3m 2f, Class 1  entries
Saturday 6th December 2014

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Sam Waley-Cohen a specialist over the National Fences and Oscar Time, twice placed in the National, wins the Becher Chase at 25/1

1 Oscar Time 25/1
2 Mendip Express 12/1
3 Saint Are 12/1
4 Alfie Spinner 25/1
5 Chance Du Roy 12/1
25 ran Distances: ¾l, 3l, 1l
TIME 6m 54.40s (slow by 16.40s)

Oscar Time
© Caroline Norris
Oscar Time

A record field of 25 lined up for the Grade Three handicap chase over three and a quarter miles of the Grand National course and 22 of the famous fences, with 13-year-old Oscar Time, second in the Crabbie's Grand National in 2011 and fourth in 2013, taking the lead from the gambled-on 8/1 favourite Our Father at the last.

Mendip Express
© Racehorse Photos

Mendip Express
The 25/1 chance, trained and owned by Sam's father Robert Waley-Cohen who is chairman of Cheltenham Racecourse, ran on well to beat Mendip Express (trained by Harry Fry, ridden by amateur Will Biddick, 12/1) by three quarters of a length, with Saint Are (Tom George/Denis O'Regan, 12/1) another three lengths in arrears in third, long-time leader Alfie Spinner (Nick Williams/Daryl Jacob) a further length back in fourth and last year's victor Chance Du Roy (Philip Hobbs/Tom O'Brien) a neck fifth. There were 14 finishers.

Robert Waley-Cohen was delighted with the victory. He said: "We have had the most enormous fun with Oscar Time. We bought him to run in the Grand National and he was second the first year (2011), when brilliantly trained by Martin Lynch in Ireland.

"He was fourth in the National two years later, got a bit injured, and we said 'he's pretty old and no horse at that age has ever won the National, so we will take him to our home in Warwickshire, nurse him back to health and get him going'.

"Then he was going so well that we said 'let's run him in a point-to-point', which he won very easily. That didn't take much out of him and we ran him in a hunter chase nine days later, which he won, and another 14 days later, which he won.

"We said 'he's 13 but he has still got it, so we will give it a go'. The Becher was obviously the target - he is a better horse here at Aintree than he is anywhere else. He gets here and he sort of stands up straight and loves it.

"He doesn't get the National trip and he will be 14 in a few weeks so he won't run in the 2015 Crabbie's Grand National.

"Sam is rather extraordinary around here - that's now five wins over the fences for him and he's been second three times and placed on a few other occasions. I don't know how he does it."

Sam Waley-Cohen's previous four successes over the Grand National fences came on Katarino in the Crabbie's Fox Hunters in both 2005 and 2006, on Warne in the same race in April and on Liberthine in the 2006 Crabbie's Topham Chase.

The 32-year-old winning rider said: "I didn't want to let Our Father get too far ahead, but I just took my time. I thought he'd gone for home early enough anyway and if I'd chased him Oscar Time would not have lasted.

"The run-in felt very long as Oscar Time doesn't do much in front and I could hear the other horse coming, but to be fair my horse has pulled out enough. He is a great horse and part of the family at home. It is a very special day.

"You've got to have the right horse for the Grand National course and anyone could have ridden Oscar Time today, as he's such a good ride over these fences.

"It has been a great course for me and it suits me in lots of ways. Most racecourses the jockeys ride them week in, week out and I come out once in a blue moon and I have to learn the course. But we have all ridden this course roughly the same amount, so it is a bit more balanced up."

© Caroline Norris

Balbriggan was pulled up by David Casey before the 10th fence and was found to have fractured a bone below the pastern joint, an injury seen in Flat racing, and was humanely put down.

Betfred Becher Handicap Chase (Grade 3) (Nat Course)
£140,000 added, 6yo plus, 3m 2f, Class 1
25 ran
Going: Good to Soft, Soft in places

Pos Dist Horse Weight Trainer Age
1st Oscar Time (IRE) 25/1
Mr S Waley-Cohen (3)
11-1 R Waley-Cohen 13
2nd ¾ Mendip Express (IRE) 12/1
Mr W Biddick (3)
11-9 H Fry 8
3rd 3 Saint Are (FR) 12/1
D F O'Regan
10-6 T R George 8
4th 1 Alfie Spinner (IRE) 25/1
D A Jacob
10-7 Nick Williams 9
5th nk Chance du Roy (FR) 12/1
T J O'Brien
11-6 P J Hobbs 10
6th 10 Renard (FR) 25/1
L Treadwell
11-7 Miss V Williams 9
7th ½ Kruzhlinin (GER) 33/1
J M Maguire
11-4 D McCain Jnr 7
8th ¾ Highland Lodge (IRE) 12/1
A Thornton
10-11 Miss E C Lavelle 8
9th Our Father (IRE) 8/1f
C O'Farrell
11-1 D Pipe 8
10th 6 Shakalaka-boomboom (IRE) 25/1
Peter Carberry (3)
10-11 N J Henderson 10
11th 2 Mon Parrain (FR) 40/1
Ryan Mahon
11-9 P F Nicholls 8
12th 34 Green Flag (IRE) 11/1
P Buchanan
11-7 Miss Lucinda V Russell 7
13th Across The Bay (IRE) 40/1
K Renwick
11-9 D McCain Jnr 10
14th 14 Master Neo (FR) 25/1
M J Quinlan
10-2 N J Hawke 8
PU Al Co (FR) 50/1
J E Moore
11-12 P Bowen 9
PU Mr Moonshine (IRE) 25/1
Daragh Bourke (5)
11-11 Mrs S J Smith 10
PU Burton Port (IRE) 33/1
R P Mclernon
11-10 Jonjo O'Neill 10
PU Just A Par (IRE) 11/1
Nick Scholfield
11-6 P F Nicholls 7
PU Lion Na Bearnai (IRE) 66/1
A P Heskin
11-4 T Gibney 12
PU The Package 20/1
T Scudamore
11-4 D Pipe 11
PU Balbriggan (IRE) 11/1
D J Casey
10-10 G Elliott 7
PU Ballybough Gorta (IRE) 33/1
B Hughes
10-9 P Bowen 7
UR Knock A Hand (IRE) 25/1
M G Nolan (3)
11-4 R Lee 9
UR Goonyella (IRE) 12/1
J J Burke (3)
11-1 J T R Dreaper 7
UR Benbens (IRE) 14/1
Ryan Hatch (5)
10-13 N A Twiston-Davies 9

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