Unibet Becher Handicap Chase
Grade 3 Handicap,
National Course, Aintree 14:40
£150,000 guaranteed, 6yo plus,
3m 1f 188y, Class 1   entries
Saturday 4th December 2021

1 Snow Leopardess 4/1F
2 Hill Sixteen 14/1
3 Checkitout 12/1
4 Domaine De L'Isle 66/1
21 ran NR: Mighty Thunder Distances: nse, 16l, 6l
Time: 7m 19.03s (slow by 41.03s)

Snow Leopardess held on for victory after a bold jumping, front-running jaunt over the Grand National fences.

Her story is well known by now – having shown promise in her early career in bumpers and over hurdles, which included a Grade Two success at Newbury and a win in France, she was then off the track for two years with injury.

However, rather than just convalesce, her time on the sidelines was put to good use and she was sent to stud to visit Derby winner Sir Percy, with the resulting filly now a two-year-old.

Having done her maternal duties Snow Leopardess was returned to Charlie Longsdon’s care and while it is not a unique situation, it is certainly rare that the mare still has the same zest for racing, certainly at a high level.

But the grey nine-year-old has returned better than ever. She won at Haydock in deep ground last season, was second in the Rowland Meyrick and fourth at the Cheltenham Festival and this year has reached new heights.

First time out at Bangor her spring-heeled jumping was once again in evidence and if one horse was a certainty to take to the National fences, it was her.

Sure enough she devoured them, putting in huge leaps when she met them on a stride and showing her versatility when getting in close.

Trainers Quotes

With half a mile to go half the field had cried enough as Snow Leopardess enjoyed a 10-length lead – but Aidan Coleman was keen to save a bit for the famous run-in, allowing Hill Sixteen and the resurgent Ryan Mania to close to within two lengths.

The mare appeared to have done enough reaching the elbow, but as so many have before she found the final 100 yards the hardest as Hill Sixteen gained with every stride, ultimately just failing to get there by just a nose.

Coleman said: “They were tough conditions and she just got lonely after the last, the poor thing. I would have been absolutely sick if we had got beat.

“I was thinking to myself that was the best fun of my life in possibly not winning! She really deserves it.”

Longsdon was overjoyed at the result as the 4-1 favourite delivered on a long-term plan. Whether she runs in the Grand National, for which Betfair gave her a 25-1 quote, is another matter.

“She got lonely in front and on that ground you do, don’t you, but she jumped beautifully. This has been the plan for a long time. I’m lost for words. She’s a very, very special mare,” he said.

“She’s won in England, Ireland and France, had legs (tendon injuries) twice, had a foal…you name it, she’s had it. But there she is again, competing with the best.

“Aidan said he would’ve kicked himself if she’d got beat, but she’s a dude. She’s a one in a lifetime for a medium-sized yard like ours.

“She was very clever in front the whole way round, so quick on her feet. What does she do now? Good question, I’ve no idea! The Grand National is the obvious one, but the owner is wary of that and she doesn’t have to go there.

“She will have to have an entry, but she’s worried about 40 runners in the field and I can understand that. Watch this space.”

Recounting his winner’s eventful life to date, he went on: “She won a Listed in Gowran, won a Grade Two novice at Newbury, went to Auteuil in the autumn and picked up a leg there. Then she went and had a foal to Sir Percy which is now a two-year-old filly.

“She came back and had a slight touch again. So she came back again and went chasing. Last season she won at Haydock in dreadful conditions, came second in the Rowland Merrick, won at Bangor and has always loved her jumping.

“She’s a dude of a mare – not bad for a working mum. It will be interesting if she’s still in training next season and her daughter comes in training too. If they are in training together that will be a rarity.”

Becher Handicap Chase
(Grade 3) (National Course)
£150,000 guaranteed, 6yo plus, 3m 1f 188y, Class 1
21 ran
Going: Soft

1      Snow Leopardess 9 10-4 Charlie Longsdon Aidan Coleman 4/1F
nse Hill Sixteen 8 10-0 2 Sandy Thomson Craig Nichol 14/1
16 Checkitout 7 10-0 Nigel Twiston-Davies Jordan Nailor 12/1
6 Domaine De L'Isle 8 10-11 Sean Curran David Bass 66/1
1 Achille 11 10-5 Venetia Williams Charlie Deutsch 13/2
6 Didero Vallis 8 10-1 Venetia Williams Hugh Nugent 28/1
½ Kimberlite Candy 9 11-0 Tom Lacey Jonathan Burke 11/1
Cobolobo 9 10-0 Jonjo O'Neill Robert Dunne 28/1
43 Tout Est Permis 8 11-0 Noel Meade E Walsh 14/1
Hogan's Height 10 10-0 Jamie Snowden Gavin Sheehan 18/1
FELL Snow Falcon 11 10-8 Noel Meade Henry Brooke
FELL Top Ville Ben 9 11-0 Philip Kirby Thomas Dowson
FELL Mac Tottie 8 10-6 Peter Bowen James Bowen
PU Ravenhill 11 11-0 Gordon Elliott J J Slevin
PU Abaya Du Mathan 9 10-0 David Pipe Charlie Todd
PU Le Breuil 9 10-0 Ben Pauling Danny McMenamin
PU Lord Du Mesnil 8 11-3 Richard Hobson Nick Scholfield
UR Vieux Lion Rouge 12 10-9 David Pipe Tom Scudamore
UR Via Dolorosa 9 10-0 David Pipe David Noonan 33/1

UR Chris's Dream 9 11-12 Henry De Bromhead Jonjo O'Neill Jr 7/1
UR El Paso Wood 7 10-0 David Pipe Conor O'Farrell 66/1
NR 5 Mighty Thunder 8 11-0 Lucinda Russell NON RUNNER