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Whilst football fans have had to park their love of the domestic game in order for the first ever winter World Cup out in sunny Qatar to take place, for those who love the horses there has been plenty of action continuing, and one such meet was the Becher Chase at Aintree – often consider a trial ground for the Grand National – and Ashtown Lad did not let anyone down as he continued the Skelton’s knack of picking up big Saturday triumphs.
Ashtown Lad was ridden by Harry Skelton for Dan, his brother, and was sent off as the 5-1 second favourite over the infamous National Fences, and the eight year old stayed close to the pace of action and with the humping over, the speedy son of Flemensfirth had enough in the tank to hold off the challenge posed by 4-1 favourite Gesskille with this Awager promotion. It meant yet another success for the Skelton’s as they added to their Betfair Chase and Coral Gold Cup wins back in November.
With Gesskille finishing in second place, Percussion again took third place – finishing in identical spots to last month’s Grand Sefton at Aintree.
This year’s National winner, Noble Yeats, again demonstrated an impressive turn of foot as he returned to lift the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree, and it helped him to move from 25s to 10-1 for the coming 2023 Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Facile Vega more than justified the punters who backed him at odds of 1-9 as he cruised home to victory in what was his hurdles debut at Fairyhouse, and Jonbon showed he was still more than on track for next year’s Arkle having secured a very comfortable and somewhat uneventful victory in the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown.
Alan King’s Edwardstone also tagged himself as a potential contender for next year’s Queen Mother Champion Chase, as the eight year old took the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown by nine clear lengths after clearing the second last fence of the race.
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Jockey Tom Cannon’s charge had previously won the Arkle Chase at Cheltenham back in March, and easily knocked defending champion Greaneteen into second place, with the fit again Shishkin six lengths back in third spot.
It was a slightly disappointing return to running for favourite Shishkin, but it was the first return since being diagnosed with a rare bone condition having been pulled up when odds on favourite in this year’s Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham last March. Many will think there is more to come when he is back up to speed properly.