Just A Par could have another try at the Randox Health Grand National, after delighting his trainer with an encouraging seventh place on his his first start for Moffatt following a 588-day absence.
The Topham Chase could be on the agenda for Highland Lodge, who got loose beforehand – slithering towards the water jump at one stage – and only got as far as The Chair in the race itself.
Watch a full replay of the Becher Chase
Highland Lodge lifted the Becher in 2015 and was making his fifth successive appearance in the three-and-a-quarter-mile handicap chase over the big fences.
“He’s a bit sore, but he’ll be OK in a couple of days,” said the Cartmel trainer.
“The horse in front of him jumped across the him. Henry (Brooke) said that’s what happened. I didn’t see it, but when I watched the replay you can see the other horse has taken his air space and he’s landed sideways.
“You might have got away with it at a fence like the Foinavon, but you can’t do that at The Chair.
“I know he only jumped six fences, but he was obviously in good order with himself.
“The whole thing was very frustrating, because the old horse was right, and where Vieux Lion Rouge (second) and Federici (fifth) finished you’d think he’d be in and around there.
“We’re just going to let the dust settle and go from there. Chris Richardson (of owners Cheveley Park) was talking about the Topham Chase in April. He keeps getting older, but he has very little mileage on the clock.
Wrong way Highland Lodge!— Racing UK (@racing_uk) December 8, 2018
The Aintree specialist has to slam the brakes on after getting loose before the Becher Chase pic.twitter.com/A4RedsrY0G
“He’s only had six-and-a-half races in the last three years.”
Just A Par completed the course in the both 2016 and 2017 Nationals when trained by Paul Nicholls, and Moffatt is thinking of putting him over hurdles ahead of another crack at the world’s greatest steeplechase.
“Just A Par was very pleasing. After 19 months off he just got a bit leg weary from the second-last, which was more than understandable. Sean (Quinlan) thought he was booked for a place until then,” said Moffatt.
“He’s a grand horse. He’s rated 146, he might drop a couple of pounds. If he has a chance of getting the National we’d probably let him have a crack at it.
“His leg are absolutely A1. He never missed a beat over the fences and it’s not very often you have a horse from a small yard with a small owner (for the National), so you may as well go for it.
“I think that was the best race he’s run over the Grand National course up to now.
“We’ll campaign him for the National and will probably run him over hurdles two or three times and just keep the revs up and protect his mark.”