0.75pts each-way Vieux Lion Rouge @11/1, 0.5pt each-way Rogue Angel @33/1, 13:35 Aintree, Saturday

The Betfred Becher Chase is always an excellent precursor to the Grand National and with unseasonably quick ground and a high quality field, it looks a cracking opening race over the National fences this season.

There ought to be plenty of pace on with the likes of The Last Samurai – who is racing off top-weight with 10lbs more to carry than his runner-up effort in April – Double Ross, last year’s winner of the Becher Highland Lodge, and Saint Are set to make the running.

We tipped Ucello Conti at a massive price in the Grand National and he looks an obvious selection for this race. However, his price at 8/1 is less enticing this time around and there is a concern he may not go the gallop on this surface.

The strong gallop should suit VIEUX LION ROUGE who likes to sit off-the-pace, and races off a 4lb lower mark compared to his runs in both the Ultima Handicap and last year’s Grand National. He travelled superbly well in both races finishing third behind Un Temps Pour Tout at Cheltenham before looking very assured on his opening try over these fences to finish a decent seventh.

That experience should stand him in good stead with form over this particular course always a huge plus in this race – none of the last six winners were making their first appearance over these fences. This is his first start of the season, but further improvement is possible and he generally goes well fresh with the shorter trip most probably in his favour.

There are several others that make up the shortlist and it may be worth having a saver on either of The Young Master, Silvergrove or Sizing Coal who are all in with a strong shout in their first try over the National fences.

We are going to take a chance that 2016 Irish Grand National winner ROGUE ANGEL, bounces back to form today after two below par performances this season.

He looks the type that will excel over these obstacles, and Mouse Morris has spoken quite highly of his charges chances now and in the future over this course. His opening run of the campaign was probably better than the bare figures, and there is further cause to be optimistic with Rogue Angel having a small wind operation in the last month which Morris is quoted as saying “has had a big difference”.

Rogue Angel loves a fast tempo and to get in to his stride at the front. He will be taken on for the lead, but if he can find a nice rhythm then he is normally extremely difficult to peg back, and nothing but game.

His trainer knows how to get a tune out of his horses for a staying race of this nature and there is big improvement expected vs. his previous two starts.

Although he won the Irish National in testing conditions, he also has a win at the Galway festival on good ground so should not have a problem acting on the surface.

His racing weight is a very manageable 10st 9lbs with his claimer on board and he could outrun his massive odds if fully wound up.

0.75pts each-way Vieux Lion Rouge @11/1, 13:35 Aintree, Saturday (Paddy Power pay 1/4 odds, five places)
0.5pt each-way Rogue Angel @33/1, 13:35 Aintree, Saturday (Betvictor pay 1/4 odds, five places)


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