All systems go for Green Flag in Becher Chase
Scottish raider Green Flag looks weighted to go well in an ultra-competitive renewal of the Becher Chase at Aintree today (1.30).
The Lucinda Russell trained gelding won his first three starts over fences last season in good style, jumping well and staying on strongly at the end of each.
The seven-year-old went to finish a cracking 11 1/4 lengths fourth of 23 to Holywell in the 3m 1f Baylis & Harding Affordable Luxury Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham off a mark of 143, where he was arguably unlucky not to finish much closer.
Green Flag lost his position when getting hampered by a faller at the eighth fence and then got outpaced three from home when the tempo quickened before picking up in tremendous style and finishing with a real rattle to be gaining all the way to the line.
The form of the race couldn’t have worked out better, with the winner going on to bolt up up by 10 lengths in the Grade 1 Mildmay Novices’ Chase at Aintree to earn an official rating of 163 and the runner-up Ma Filleule winning the Topham Chase at the same meeting off a mark of 150.
Green Flag was receiving just 2lb from those two rivals, so in the circumstances it was a huge effort given how the race panned out.
The son of Milan went on to round-off the season with an excellent sixth of 29 to Alco in the Coral Scottish Grand National, and shaped well on reappearance at Carlisle last month over an inadequate 2m 4f when fourth to subsequent Hennessy winner Many Clouds.
That run should have put Green Flag spot on for this, and the step up to 3m 2f is sure to suit.
Judged on his run behind Holywell at the Cheltenham Festival, Green Flag is on a handy mark off 142 and with Peter Buchanan in the saddle looks weighted to run a huge race.
There are plenty of dangers, including Chance Du Roy who is bidding to become the first horse to win back-to-back runnings of the contest.
The Philip Hobbs trained gelding only had to be driven out on the long run in to beat Baby Run by a length 12 months ago off a mark of 135, and went on to round off the season with a fine sixth of 40 to Pineau De Re in the Crabbies’ Grand National off 143.
The 10-year-old is now able to race off 2lb lower, and given his fine record over the Aintree fences looks sure to give it his best shot to retain his crown for a stable that can do little wrong at present.