JAMES Moffatt is hoping a “punt” on Just A Par will yield rewards as the 11-year-old prepares for his first run under the Cartmel trainer in this Saturday’s Becher Chase at Aintree.

The 2015 Bet365 Gold Cup Chase winner has been at Pit Farm Stables since August after being acquired in the sales, having not been seen since finishing 11th in last year’s renewal of the Grade Three race at Sandown.

Since then, Just A Par has been spending much of the time recuperating before being put into the sales, with Moffatt eyeing a tilt at the Becher for the former Paul Nicholls-trained horse since he came to South Cumbria.

“He’s had a long time off and hasn’t run since the Bet365 Chase at Sandown, where he gave himself a bit of a knock,” said Moffatt.

“He then had 12 months off at Cheveley Park Stud’s conditioning yard down south and then went to the sales.

“Di Turner, who runs that yard, I know her quite well and that is a five-star hotel for horses, and after talking with her at length we felt he was worth a punt at what was only £11,000.

“Mark Scott, the owner, is a local man to Aintree, he would dearly love to have a runner over the National fences, so we start there with a horse who has raised [a rating of] 146.”

Just A Par is one of two entries Moffatt holds for the Becher, with former winner Highland Lodge lining up for his fifth crack at the 3m 1f Grade Three chase over the Grand National fences.

The bookies might not be giving either of them much of a chance in the early betting – Highland Lodge is around 16/1 and Just A Par 33/1 – but Moffatt is enthused by what he has seen from the recent arrival.

“He’s had a long time off, but his preparation has been exact because we had him in August and it’s been exactly the same as Highland Lodge,” said Moffatt.

“He’s run in two Grand Nationals, he goes on soft ground, he’s very much an unknown quantity and whether he’ll move forward from the race with regards to his wellbeing I don’t know.

“But he’s been working side to side with Highland and we’re very pleased with him.

“It’s lovely for a small yard out in the middle of nowhere to have two runners in one of the biggest races of the season.”