Consistent Unioniste the safe option in Aintree’s Listed Chase
The highlight of Saturday’s Aintree card is the Becher Chase which has attracted a huge field of 24 runners. The Willie Mullins-trained On His Own is likely to go off favourite despite having fallen in both of the last two Grand Nationals.
He looked certain to take a hand in the finish before falling at Becher’s on the second circuit in 2012 but was already on the retreat when departing at the 25th fence this year. His stable companion Vesper Bell is an interesting runner after his fine second at Punchestown in April.
He was just run out of it in the final strides by leading Welsh National hope Goonyella and could be a contender if he takes to these big fences. Across The Bay ran well for a long way in the National this year and could appreciate this shorter trip whilst Join Together and Wyck Hill are others to consider in a wide open contest.
The Giant Bolster has been placed second and fourth in the last two Cheltenham Gold Cups and is looking to get back to his best in the Listed Chase at 2.40. However, he ran no sort of race at Haydock first time out and is impossible to back with confidence.
There are also doubts about Katenko after his fall in last week’s Hennessy Gold Cup. He was making his return after a lengthy layoff that day and may need another race to put him straight.
Trainer Paul Nicholls has found it unusually difficult to get his horses spot on first time out this season and it seems safe to assume that Unioniste will improve for his run at Wetherby. He will need to if he is to reverse the form with the runner-up Wayward Prince but he should still be improving at the age of five.
Nicky Henderson’s dual-purpose performer Lieutenant Miller can make the most of a lenient handicap mark in the 1.00. He ran better at Cheltenham than his finishing position suggests and this flat track should bring out the best in him.
The Great Sefton Chase looks just as competitive as the Becher Chase and Alan King’s Midnight Appeal is a speculative choice.
Selections: 12.00 Gabrial The Great, 12.30 Mystery Drama, 1.00 Lieutenant Miller (NAP), 1.30 Tantamount, 2.05 Vesper Bell, 2.40 Unioniste (nb), 3.15 Midnight Appeal