Sefton the second Gesskille pursues Becher’s compensation

By Graham Clark

Trainer Oliver Greenall admits it would be “very special” if Gesskille can make a successful return to Aintree, going one better at his second start over the iconic Grand National fences and becoming the first six-year-old to win Saturday’s Boylesports Becher Handicap Chase. .

The 36-year-old, who trains in partnership with Josh Guerriero, spent much of his youth growing up at the world-famous track alongside his father Lord Daresbury, chairman of the Merseyside venue between 1989 and 2014.

Having watched some of the modern greats during his childhood, Greenall now hopes he can celebrate a winner over the unique fences with Gesskille, who is one of 25 confirmed today for the Premier Handicap Chase. Gesskille leads the market at 4-1 with race sponsor Boylesports.

“Although I now live an hour away from the racecourse, growing up Aintree was my local track so it was always a special racecourse for me,” Greenall said.

Geskille approaches in Grand Sefton

“My dad Peter was chairman there for 25 years, so we used to live about 15 to 20 minutes away.

“I was there at almost every meeting and I still know a lot of people from the area where I lived, so it would be very special if we could win one over the Grand National fences.

“It’s also me and Josh’s first season on the Bachelor together, so it would be nice to get a big race like Becher on board so early.

“The statistics are against him because six-year-olds have a pretty poor record in this race, but he is a French horse so he started training a lot earlier and has competed more than others his age.”

After claiming Listed glory at Auteuil in June in the second of two trips to France this spring, Gesskille failed by a nose to follow up that success in last month’s Boylesports Best Odds Guaranteed at Racing Grand Sefton Handicap Chase.

Although the step up to three and a quarter miles this weekend is something of an unknown, Greenall is confident that both the extra distance and softer surface will work in the gelding’s favor.

“He seemed to do well over fences in Grand Sefton and Henry Brooke gave him a lovely ride,” Greenall said.

“And he slipped at Canal Turn and couldn’t ride it as effectively as he wanted, but he ran well and I was delighted.

“When he was running in the cross country races in France I was pretty confident he would go over the fences, although you are never sure.

“He’s won over three miles before but he’s never been over this type of trip in the past so it’s a bit of an unknown if he’ll get it but he seems to be relaxing in his races so I’m pretty confident he’ll get it .

“Henry felt he was in top gear in Sefton, which was over two miles five, and he felt the longer distance would help improve that bit more, while the softer ground should suit.”

Looking beyond this weekend, Greenall is hopeful that a tilt at the Randox Grand National could be on the cards in the future, with Gesskille appearing to like the fences. However, he insists he’s taking things one step at a time.

Greenall concluded: “He could be a Grand National horse in the future but he needs to keep improving.

“When he first came, he went a bit astray, being a good horse and he was very difficult to rate at home. When we went to Ludlow last season we weren’t sure what we had as he is quite a quiet horse at home.

“He’s an absolute go-getter though and he made two trips to France in the spring, all in his stride, which bodes well for the future.

“We take each race as it comes, starting with the Becher, but the Grand National could be a possibility in the future.”

Gesskille is one of 25 entries for the Becher, with last year’s first and second Snow Leopardess and Hill Sixteen back in contention along with Top Ville Ben, Ashtown Lad and Captain Kangaroo.

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