Fans of Aintree’s big Grand National fences are in for a real treat here, as the Merseyside venue lays on not one, but two cracking chase contests over the most famous obstacles in the world. Hot on the heels of the Becher Chase comes this event, the Grand Sefton Chase, which draws the curtain on an excellent seven race card.
The Grand Sefton was first run in 1865 but the race was discontinued after 1965 at a time when Aintree’s popularity was declining and the track was sold to a property developer. In 2003, with racing at Aintree is as popular as ever, the Grand Sefton was brought back into the racing calendar.
There will be plenty in with chances in an often competitive renewal but for us, previous form over the fences trumps all else in this race.
Next Race: TBD
The next renewal of this race has not been scheduled yet. We will update this once the schedule has been released for next season. The race info, trends and tips shown below will be updated for the next renewal once the final declarations have been made.
Last Run: 5th December 2020
- Winner: Beau Bay
- SP: 20/1
- Trainer: Dr Richard Newland
- Jockey: Charlie Hammond
Two miles five furlongs is the trip for this Class 2 event which offers £64,000 in total prize money, and sees the runners tackle the most famous fences in the world around Aintree’s Grand National course. The ground at the track is currently described as soft and despite decent weather forecast for race day, heavy rain on Friday should see it stay at least as soft as that.
|Going||Distance||Grade||Prize Money||Runners||EW Terms|
|Soft||2m5f||Class 2||£64,000||19 Runners||1/4 1-4|
Grand Sefton Chase Betting Tips
Note: The following tips are from 2020. Tips for the next renewal will be added once the final declarations have been made.
Eleven-time champion trainer Paul Nicholls tops the trainers’ table in this race having racked up three wins since this race was brought back following a 58-year hiatus in 2003. Nicholls would look to boast solid claims of adding to that tally this year with his two entries, Modus and Sametegal, featuring prominently in the market.
When looking at the age of the previous winners of this, it is the eight and nine year olds who have fared best, with 11 of the past 14 winners falling into that age bracket. Sticking strictly to that trend would rule out nine of this year’s 19 runner field so could be a decent place to start.
A simple winning strategy in this race over the past 10 years has been to back the favourite. The market leader has only come home in front on three occasions over this period but that has still been enough to hand supporters of the jolly a profit of £5.00 to £1 level stakes. That said, we saw winners at 16/1 in 2013 and last year, and at 25/1 (Poole Master) in 2014.
|Springtown Lake||9/1||11st 2lbs||Philip Hobbs||Tom O’Brien|
|Might Bite||16/1||11st 10lbs||Nicky Henderson||Jeremiah McGrath|
|Beau Bay||22/1||10st 5lbs||Dr Richard Newland||Charlie Hammond|
Springtown Lake – 9/1
Modus and Huntsman Son are out at the head of the market this year on the back of impressive wins last time out. We would have concerns about Modus’s jumping holding up around here though whilst Huntsman Son may find the soft ground against him. As such, the one we like best from towards the head of the market is the Philip Hobbs-trained eight year old, Springtown Lake.
The first tick this one gets is in the jumping box having fallen only once in 19 career starts, and even that was more of a trip than a fall having come down two strides after the final hurdle back in 2017. Generally very accurate at his fences since being sent chasing, the fact that three of his four career wins have come on soft or worse going also augurs well for his chance.
A mark of 142 is equal to his career high, but is only 7lbs higher than when hosing up by 20-lengths at Warwick back in February. He did finish eight lengths adrift of Modus on his seasonal return over the standard fences on good to soft at this track last time out, but gets a 9lb pull in the weights for that, and may turn the tables granted the softer ground and stiffer jumping challenge.
Might Bite – 16/1
Everyone likes to see an old boy bounce back from a spell in the doldrums, and the best story in this race would no doubt be should Might Bite turn back the clock and re-enter the winner’s enclosure. A four-time Grade 1 winner, and a gallant second to Native River in the memorable Gold Cup of 2018, he was a cut above this lot at his peak.
The trouble is he hasn’t been anywhere near that peak for some time now. Ending last season with a 49-length seventh in the Cross Country Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, he had unseated and been pulled up in two of his three starts prior to that. It might take a leap of faith to back him here but there are reasons to believe odds of 16/1 could be a decent each way option.
His penultimate start of last season did offer a chink of hope for starters. Although he was beaten 10½l into third behind old rival Native River in a Grade 2 at Newbury that was a decent showing and an effort which can be upgraded considering he lost both front shoes during the race. Clearly that was still some way below his very best, but even a repeat of that effort wouldn’t put him a million miles away, in what is after all a Class 2 handicap.
Returned to the track over 3m at Ascot last time out, he showed a lot of his old zest when jumping boldly out in front only to fade into fifth inside the final furlong. Down 3f in trip here and with that run under his belt, he seems likely to see this out better. Running off 150 here having been rated as high as 172 in his pomp, he makes a fair bit of each way appeal.
Beau Bay – 22/1
The major factor which makes this contest so different from the many other 2m5f chases on the calendar is of course the fences of the Grand National course. Some runners take to them like a duck to water, whilst for others merely getting around is something of an ordeal. As such a proven ability to handle the likes of Valentine’s, Becher’s Brook and The Chair counts for plenty. With that in mind, we are always keen to look for previous course and distance form in this race, and one who ticks that box - at a nice each way price - is the Dr Richard Newland runner, Beau Bay.
The nine year old will be having his fourth crack at this course and distance, and significantly has taken a big step forward in each of those three previous outings. Clumsily unseating in his first effort in the 2018 Topham Chase, he then did much better to finish ninth of 27 in that April contest in 2019. The best effort of the lot though came when third in this very race 12 months ago.
No match for 16l winner Hogan’s Height, who made a mockery of his 134 rating, he nevertheless only lost second right on the line and was six lengths clear of the rest. Fit from a recent outing at Warwick, he is 1lb lower than 12 months ago, and worth considering each way with a number of firms paying out each way on the first five.
Grand Sefton Chase Winners
|2020||Beau Bay||20/1||Dr Richard Newland||Charlie Hammond|
|2019||Hogan's Height||16/1||Jamie Snowden||Tom Cannon|
|2018||Warriors Tale||15/2||Paul Nicholls||Sean Bowen|
|2017||Gas Line Boy||9/2||Ian Williams||Robert Dunne|
|2016||As De Mee||4/1||Paul Nicholls||Sean Bowen|
|2015||Bennys Mist||8/1||Venetia Williams||Liam Treadwell|
|2014||Poole Master||25/1||David Pipe||Tom Scudamore|
|2013||Rebel Rebellion||16/1||Paul Nicholls||Ryan Mahon|
|2012||Little Josh||7/2||Nigel Twiston-Davies||Sam Twiston-Davies|
|2011||Stewarts House||11/2||Tim Vaughan||Aidan Coleman|
About the Grand Sefton Chase: Back Over the National Fences
Aintree racecourse will of course forever be associated with the race which is, not only the most famous race to take place at the track, but just about the biggest horse race to be run anywhere in the world. The Grand National aside though, this excellent jumping venue stages numerous other high-quality contests throughout the season, including this winter cracker.
Named after the local Merseyside village of Sefton, and first run way back in 1865, the race quickly became one of the most targeted and popular contests of the autumn months, remaining part of the British fixture list until 1965. The fortunes of the event had been steadily diminishing for some time prior to that though, and when the contest was scrapped ahead of the 1966 season, it appeared it may be gone for good.
Fast forward to 2003 and the decision was made to revive the race as part of Aintree’s Becher Meeting in December, with one key change. The 2m5f trip remained the same, but rather than being run over standard National Hunt fences, the race would now be contested over 18 of the world famous Grand National obstacles. A Grade 3 handicap affair open to runners aged six and older, the contest has only gone from strength to strength since making its comeback.
Eight And Nine Year Olds Out In Front
We don’t have an overwhelming trend in evidence here when looking at the ages of the winner since the reintroduction of the race in 2003. It does however seem that some experience – but not too much – is beneficial, with the eight and nine year old contenders winning close to 65% of the editions to have been run to date between them. Any conclusions can only really be tentative though, at what is still a relatively early stage in the race’s second life.
There are of course exceptions to the above trend, with Dark Room (2003) and As De Mee (2016) belying their inexperience to score at six years of age; and Hakim (2005) and Gas Line Boy (2011) landing blows for the elder statesmen, when coming home in front after their 11th birthdays.
Nicholls Takes The Lead
This has proven to be a fairly open contest in terms of trainer and jockey trends, with the 17 editions of the race to have been run since 2003 being shared between 14 different trainers, and 16 different jockeys.
No real surprise to see it is the name of Paul Nicholls who leads the way amongst the handlers. First successful with Rebel Rebellion in 2013, Nicholls’ third success with Warriors Tale in 2018 moved him one clear of dual winner Jim Goldie.
The only jockey to land the prize on more than one occasion, again as of 2019, is the man aboard Paul Nicholls’ two most recent winners; the supremely talented Sean Bowen having partnered both As De Mee and Warriors Tale to victory. Warriors Tale also warrants a special mention as the only horse to date (as of 2019) to carry top weight of 11st12lb to glory.