Racing: Amberleigh back on Becher trail

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The Independent Online

Amberleigh House, winner of the Grand National in March, returns to Aintree tomorrow for what looks a thrilling renewal for the Becher Chase.

Amberleigh House, winner of the Grand National in March, returns to Aintree tomorrow for what looks a thrilling renewal for the Becher Chase.

The 12-year-old has yet to finish out of the frame in the three-mile-three-furlong Becher Chase, having finished second in the last two runnings after landing the spoils in 2001.

Ginger McCain's charge is one of 15 horses declared for the race and William Hill have installed Amberleigh House as the 5-1 favourite. McCain's stable star had a pleasing run over an inadequate distance at Wetherby last month, and his handler feels anther big run is on the cards despite a hefty burden.

"He has got top weight of 11st 10lb and he is not the biggest horse in the world to carry that," McCain said. "He is a seriously good Liverpool horse, though, there is no question about that whatsoever. Given the luck in running, which you do need around Aintree, it will be his eighth time around there over the National fences, which isn't a bad record. He has never fallen, but was hit into in his first National and scrambled along on his chest. We expect him to run a big, big race."

Next in the weights for the Sunday spectacle is the Edward O'Grady-trained Takagi, who is the sole Irish challenger. The nine-year-old was travelling well when unseating his rider in the Grand National at The Chair last April.

Smarty was another to have contested the Grand National last term, finishing sixth at odds of 100-1. "Smarty is in the form of the his life at the moment," said trainer Mark Pitman. "I think he's got a great chance of being in the money."

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