Becher Chase Attracts 16

Thu 6th Dec 2012, 11:17

©Healy Racing Photos
Former Grand National winner Ballabriggs kicks off his season with another start over the famous Aintree fences against 15 rivals for Saturday's Betfred Becher Handicap Chase.

Donald McCain's fine stayer ran just twice last term, finishing sixth when attempting to defend his National title, and must concede weight all round over the shorter trip of three and a quarter miles.

He will take on several horses with expert form over the birch, as the past two winners of the race - West End Rocker and Hello Bud - are in the line-up.

McCain fields one more horse in the shape of the experienced Fabalu.

Others in the field to have also run in Nationals are this year's fifth-placed In Compliance, as well as Midnight Haze, Big Fella Thanks and Swing Bill.

The 2011 bet365 Gold Cup hero Poker De Sivola continues his comeback for Ferdy Murphy, while Paul Nicholls has just one runner in Join Together, who is stepping out of novice company for the first time.

The most notable defection was Jonjo O'Neill's Alfie Sherrin, who won at the Cheltenham Festival and finished third in the Irish National.

He has several other high-profile entries at Christmas.

7 in the hunt for Tingle Creek glory

Sprinter Sacre and Sanctuaire will face off in Saturday's Sportingbet Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown in the first big clash over two miles this season.