Last week I headed off to Aintree for the renewal of the Becher Chase, It turned out to be a glorious day in Liverpool and the race itself held more than a few surprises. The Becher Chase is run over the Grand National fences and acts as a marker for horses who are likely to have a crack at the 2013 Grand National in April. In the past Grand National winners like Silver Birch, Amberleigh House and Earth Summit have all won the race.

The day started out really well with a hassle free drive up to Liverpool, it got even better when I managed to pick-up a ticket outside Aintree for less than the official entry price. Once inside the course I took a stroll over to the Red Rum statue and also to the new statue of Ginger McCain which is situated in the parade ring. Both are excellent and I’ve included a few photos of each above, if you ever get to Aintree make sure you check them out.

The crowd on the day was lighter than expected, the recent bad weather undoubtedly put many people off. However, you couldn’t have asked for better conditions on the day. It was a cold, yet sunny and the rain held off until late in the afternoon. The going was testing but not treacle – what more can you expect in early December!

A number of familiar faces where entered in the Becher, including Donald McCains 2011 National winner Ballabriggs, Hello Bud who won the race in 2010 and West End Rocker who won the race last year. On paper it had all the makings of a competitive encounter and it certainly didn’t disappoint the fans. The betting centered on West End Rocker (7/1) and the much fancied Alfie Sherrin (8/1) with interest also shown in Ballabriggs and Join Together. One horse who didn’t seem to attract the punters was the 14 year old veteran Hello Bud, the Nigel Twiston-Davies horse drifted around 14/1 prior to the start of the race.

When you consider the experience has at Aintree it was surprising to see Hello Bud at such a big price. However, at 14 years old you can’t blame for punters for not wanting to lump money on him. For those brave souls who did their loyalty was repaid handsomely. The old battler gave young Sam Twiston-Davies a great ride round the big fences and stayed on to win the race despite a challenge from Join Together, who might just be the one to watch in the 2013 Grand National.

The day belonged to the Twiston-Davies clan, speaking to the press the trainer of Hello Bud Nigel Twiston-Davies said… ‘He is 14 and some people say retire, retire, but when horses are as happy as him what can you do?’ Jockey Sam added ‘I think it was the perfect way for him to go out today and I’d like to think he’s finished. At the end of the interview Sam stated ‘I know he can run in the National but it would be shame to keep dragging him on.’

So it seems unlikely we will see Hello Bud at Aintree again, but lets not forget that Join Together is almost certain to have a crack at those fences again in April, with better ground he would be a tidy each-way bet for the 2013 Grand National – currently 16/1 with Paddy Power antepost.