Given the flat track, where it sits in the calendar and even its geographical location this race really is the best trial for the Grand National right now and is therefore very well named!
This year we may well see the winner of this race going right up to the head of the betting for Aintree all being well, with one horse standing out in this race despite its typically competitive look. Here are six against the field for Haydock’s feature on Saturday:
Potentially overpriced in this despite winning last time out around this track, Chef D’Oeuvre’s best performances have come on genuinely soft ground which may just hold him back this time for win purposes but he remains in with a shout of getting into the money and perhaps enhancing his chances of a place in the National itself.
Sam Waley-Cohen rides for his father Robert once again and still takes 3lbs off Neil Mulholland’s nine-year-old, just as he did when landing a good ground Warwick Grade 3 handicap last time.
This horse is certainly on the improve and for a proper stayer, his 6lb rise in the handicap is far from harsh and so if the hustle and bustle of this race doesn’t get to him then he has every chance of making his mark here before going on to Aintree.
Ramses De Teillee
One well fancied for the Grand National in April, but also one who is somewhat of a Chepstow specialist and who badly needs to show he can do it away from the Welsh track.
Ramses De Teille was once again a winner at his favourite course this season when landing the Welsh National Trial before going on to run second in the main event in December, and while he is not out of this even his very best form at these weights away from there would not necessarily give him the win and so others are preferred this time.
A good age for a Grand National type, lightly raced over fences, improving, stays well and has acted around this track. What’s not to like about Robinsfirth just now?
Although beaten by today’s rival Wakanda in the Peter Marsh around Haydock recently, it’s interesting to note that despite being runner-up you could argue he didn’t go on from his excellent win over 3m2f at Cheltenham in December which tends to make me think the race was a little sharp for him last time.
With another chase under his belt now and going up to three miles, four-and-a-half furlongs we should see a career best over the larger obstacles from Colin Tizzard’s horse and off a mark of 148 that may well be good enough to land him this race and a place at Liverpool in the spring.
Another strong chance for the Tizzard yard comes in the shape of this nine-year-old Taunton winner, but this time his representative is less consistent and has not won a race of this nature before.
He was second at Cheltenham behind Rock The Kasbah in November though so he has at least shown himself to be competitive at a good level, but all things considered he’ll need to improve again to take this race and with a more fancied stable mate in the contest it’s hard to see him doing so.
The Two Amigos
A very interesting young horse who could well take advantage of what might prove to be a lenient handicap mark over fences.
He’s had an easy time of things in six to 9-runner events around the southern tracks so far but won nicely last time out over this sort of trip so if handling the rough and tumble of this contest he could get himself right into the mix.
The Two Amigos is an interesting each-way option in this race, though we have to take it on trust that this horse can pull it out in a more competitive event than he is used to. Ramses De Teillee may have been over bet while Royal Vacation holds a chance but is not even considered the best of his stable in this contest.
With that in mind and with this extra yardage probably the final missing piece, ROBINSFIRTH is the most likely winner and is still good value as of Friday afternoon at around the 8 or 9/1 mark.