OK so my earlier work has left me with a list of 15 runners to work with. Five day entries are on Monday, and I’ll do plenty of reading between then and when the final declarations are made.
First Lieutenant (23 chase starts – 3 wins / 8 seconds / 5 thirds)
Won the Grade 1 Betfred Bowl over 3m 1f of the Mildmay course here in April 2013 off a mark of 168. Not won in 11 races since, including 4th of 6 in the Bowl last year, and not shown much this season so far. Finished 3rd of 4 in a hurdles race at Thurles last time. 33/1 GENERALLY AVAILABLE
Mon Parrain (19 – 6/2/2)
Well beaten in the Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster last time (3miles 2f). Caused a surprise when winning at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day over 3m 2.5f at 20/1. 11th of 14 finishers in the Becher Chase over the National course in December. Finished second in the Topham Chase as a 5yo way back in 2011, when looking all over the winner jumping the last until Always Waining breezed past. Wears blinkers which isn’t ideal in this big field. 50/1 GENERALLY AVAILABLE
Night In Milan (18 – 4/6/3)
Won the Grimthorpe in 2014 jumping very well on that occasion. Third this year having belted the first fence. Usually races prominently / wears blinkers. 40/1 LADBROKES / CORALS, 33/1 GENERALLY
Al Co (12 – 4/1/1)
Won the Scottish National at Ayr last April when an unconsidered 40/1 outsider so stamina is assured, unlike so many in the race. Pulled up in the Becher Chase in December when a 50/1 chance in his only attempt over this course, never showed and didn’t jump well. Has also had three spins over hurdles this season. 33/1 LADS / CORAL / HILLS 25/1 ELSEWHERE
Godsmejudge (14 – 3/3/2)
Won the Scottish National in 2013 and second behind Al Co last year so this test will hold no fears. Ran appallingly over hurdles last time out, well beaten in two runs prior to that. Note was pulled up in two runs prior to Scottish National last year. Needs to return to form but big chance if he does. 20/1 GENERALLY AVAILABLE.
Monbeg Dude (17 – 4/1/3)
Former Welsh National winner and also won at Cheltenham over 3.5 miles, extreme trips in soft / heavy ground seem to bring out the best in him. Likely to be better ground next week. Finished seventh last year, towards the back and then made progress on the second circuit. On a similar mark this time round – similar result ? 33/1 GENERALLY AVAILABLE
Across The Bay (19 – 4/3/0)
This one was clear of the field last year when he was carried out by a loose horse after jumping the water and went from first to last. Was also taken wide by a loose horse at the same spot the year before but was able to recover and ran prominently until fading out of contention over the last few fences. Has won over 3.5 miles on heavy ground at Haydock. Likely will give a bold sight, wears blinkers. 50/1 BET 365 / VC BET / PADDY POWER, 40/1 ELSEWHERE
Chance Du Roy (24 – 6/2/2)
Won the Becher Chase in December 2013 before finishing 6th in last year’s National. Finished 5th in this season’s renewal of the Becher so clearly has a liking for these fences. 40/1 GENERALLY AVAILABLE.
Gas Line Boy (11 – 3/0/2)
Won on soft ground over 3m 5f at Haydock in November, although only 3 of the 8 runners completed the course. Has also won the same chase at Exeter for the last two seasons over 3 miles. Pulled up in the Welsh National over Christmas after making an early mistake and made a couple of bad mistakes when finishing fourth in the Haydock Grand National trial on his most recent start. Interesting at a very big price but probably not good enough. 100/1 WITH PADDY POWER, 104 ON BETFAIR,66/1 GENERALLY
Wyck Hill (14 – 5/1/1)
Won the Eider Chase over 4m 1f in 2014 before finishing 6th in the Midlands National three weeks later. Ran in the 2013 Becher Chase where he was doing his best work at the end of the race so this test should suit. Fell last time out.
40/1 GENERALLY, 50/1 WITH SKYBET, 85 ON BETFAIR
Portrait King (13 – 3/2/1)
Won the Eider Chase way back in 2012, also won over 3.5 miles that season. Then had 18 months off after running unplaced in the Scottish National. Won in January this year at Punchestown. Unplaced in the Eider in February and had a spin over hurdles last time out. 66/1 GENERALLY
Duke of Lucca (25 – 4/5/1)
Won the 3m 1f chase on the National day card last year which Don’t Push It won the year before his National win. Mainly been competing in Cross Country chases since then and was well fancied at the festival but could only finish 8th. The third horse on my list from the Hobbs stable having discarded his most fancied runner Balthazar King !
50/1 – 66/1 GENERALLY, 170 ON BETFAIR
Soll (15 – 4/1/0)
Winner of a veterans chase last time out at Newbury (3m 2.5 f)and also won his only other start this season at Exeter. Finished 7th in the 2013 National behind Auroras Encore, weakening in the home straight and beaten 44 lengths. Missed the cut last year and ran in the Topham instead where he was staying on towards the end. Wore blinkers for the first time last time out. 25/1 LADBROKES, 20/1 GENERALLY
Raz De Maree (13 – 3/2/1)
All three chase wins have been on soft or heavy ground. Won the Cork National over 3m 4f in November 2012 but hasn’t won a race since. 8th in last year’s National, keeping on past beaten horses at the end. Has worn a variety of head gear.
66/1 STAN JAMES / CORAL, 50/1 GENERALLY, 75 ON BETFAIR.
The Package (20 – 3/4/3)
Has been around forever, won at the Cheltenham Festival last time out over 3m 2f, blinkered for the first time, and his other two chase wins have been over more than three miles. Unseated rider in the 2010 National, didn’t run it again until finishing 12th last year beaten 63 lengths.
33/1 GENERALLY, 45 ON BETFAIR