Connections of the talented Saint Are were more than hopeful that their charge would run a big race in the recent Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury, but their dreams were left in tatters when the Tim Vaughan-trained gelding got no further than the sixth race in the contest won in superb fashion by new Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite Bob’s Worth, writes Elliot Slater.
Normally a sound jumper, the French bred gelding took a fairly innocuous fall and is reported none the worse for his tumble and raring to go in what appears something of a retrieval mission when he tackles the awesome spruce fences on the Grand National course at Aintree in Saturday’s valuable Betfred Becher Chase.
Aintree has proved a very happy hunting ground for the six-year-old and was the scene of his biggest success to date when producing a shock victory under Richard Johnson in the 2011 renewal of the Grade 1 John Smith’s Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at Betfair odds of 33/1, running on powerfully to beat Cantlow by four lengths.
Runner-up to the smart Champion Court back at the Liverpool track on his novice chase debut last October, Saint Are went on to prove himself a decent young chasing prospect in only narrowly losing out to the useful Harry The Viking in a novice chase at Doncaster a couple of months later.
Not for the first time below par at Cheltenham at the Festival meeting – the track doesn’t appear to suit him – Saint Are bounced back to his very best at Aintree in April when winning the listed John Smith’s Handicap Chase under a fine ride from Dougie Costello, and the Irishman will be back on board on Saturday and can be backed on betfair at odds of 16/1. Costello believes will relish the challenge of tackling the unique fences a what is undoubtedly his favourite course.