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Grand Sefton Chase

Some great chasing action in Liverpool this weekend and it's caught the eye of aspiring racing journalist, Adam Webb. Read more of his work at OnTheOtherHoof and follow him on @adamwebb121.

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Betfred Grand Sefton Handicap Chase
Class 2, £70,000, approx 2m5f
1520 local, 0220 AEDST


The other feature alongside the Becher Chase over the Grand National fences is the Grand Sefton Handicap Chase run over the same course and distance as the Topham Trophy. Revived in 2003 after being a main staple of the National Hunt season over a one hundred year period from 1865 to 1965, it has proven to be a race that suits horses that race handily and DOUBLE ROSS looks to have a huge chance to make it an excellent day for Nigel Twiston-Davies.

Having been in the wilderness after a good effort in last season’s Charlie Hall Chase when third to Menorah, he returned this season with a fine second behind Pendra in the United House Gold Cup at Ascot and confirmed that effort when running well in the Paddy Power Gold Cup when fourth to Annacotty. He has experience of the fences when fifth in the 2014 Topham behind runaway winner Ma Filleule and the ease in ground will play to his strengths over this distance. Twiston-Davies won this contest with a similar type in Little Josh back in 2012 and he looks the one to beat with plenty in his favour.

Paul Nicholls has two runners with the main hope looking to be Rocky Creek who is a fascinating contender over this distance. Well fancied for this year’s Grand National after an impressive victory in the Racing Plus Chase, he disappointed badly having failed to travel with the same zest he had shown in the 2014 renewal when fifth behind Pineau De Re. He arguably brings the best form to the race having chased home Don Cossack in the JNWine Champion Chase at Down Royal last time and has to be seriously respected.

Nicholls is also represented by Fago who has been difficult to train with various issues ailing him throughout his career. His comeback at Wetherby reads well behind Wakanda with that rival winning last week’s Rehearsal Chase but he was slightly disappointing at Ascot when fading close home. He has experience of Aintree having fallen heavily in the 2014 Topham when travelling strongly on the heels of the leaders. The main concerns are whether he’ll see the trip out and with his problems over the years, Aintree would be the place to expose them.

Bennys Mist has valuable form around these fences including when second to Ma Filleule in the 2014 Topham and third behind Poole Master in last year’s renewal. A good effort when second in the Newbury Gold Cup behind Sound Investment saw him well fancied for the Topham Trophy. He was struggling when baulked by a loose horse and sent Aidan Coleman over the third last fence. His form this season has been disappointing and you would be hoping on a return to Aintree to bring about significant improvement.

Poole Master won this last year when making most of the running before showing very little, including in the Topham when looking to sulk. The conditions of this race should suit better off a two pound higher mark than last year but he is difficult to fancy with the Pipe yard still not firing on all cylinders. Seventh Sky was a model of consistency last season and has been set some stiff tasks so far this season in chasing home Coneygree at Sandown and finishing fourth behind Vautour last time at Ascot. A drop down in grade will be of benefit and he should be competitive off his mark but others appeal more than him.

Micky Hammond picked up Topham third RATHLIN for only £11,000 over the summer from his former owners Gigginstown and this purchase could look shrewd. He took to the challenge well in April and runs here off a four pound lower mark in a less competitive race. The ground isn’t a concern as he’s won on all types of ground and Wayne Hutchinson is an excellent jockey booking with his confidence sky high after Smad Place’s Hennessy success last week.

With testing ground assured, Silver Roque, Top Cat Henry and Distime can easily be ignored with their best form coming on a sounder surface whilst Witness In Court looked to enjoy these fences before unseating at Valentines in the Topham. Donald McCain’s charge has won on soft ground but he would probably appreciate better ground. Both Art Of Logistics and Mwaleshi look difficult to weigh up with them looking out of form. The former ran a decent enough race behind Savello in a conditions event back in June at Punchestown but has shown little since and the latter should appreciate the ground having won on bottomless ground at Haydock in January but recent form doesn’t inspire.

Conclusion

Nigel Twiston-Davies did the unique double of the Becher/Grand Sefton in 2012 and looks to have two ideal candidates to achieve it again in Algernon Pazham and DOUBLE ROSS who has returned to a decent level of form this season and deserves to be favourite. Rocky Creek merits the utmost of respect coming back down in distance whilst RATHLIN is one at a bigger price that should go well for new connections.

1) Double Ross 2) Rathlin 3) Rocky Creek

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