We’re over the Grand National fences for the Topham, a race that despite being run over 2m5f so often throws up future National contenders so be on the lookout for that.
As for today, we have six against the field who look capable of putting in big performances, all of them at value odds.
Nicky Henderson’s seven-year-old has not been over-raced and should appreciate conditions here, perhaps leading to a new career high.
Back in November he was a good winner ahead of Fiddlerontheroof on good ground over two-and-a-half miles, while his subsequent fourth at Sandown and seventh at Cheltenham were battled out on proper soft ground.
A switch back to slightly quicker conditions here, bearing in mind the track and the big field as well as the weather, may see him continue his improvement which puts him in with a chance under Daryl Jacob.
As a ten-year-old you wouldn’t necessarily expect Kauto Riko to be showing us too much improvement, however he has only had 13 chase starts and is running second time up after a breathing operation.
Fourth to Coole Cody at Cheltenham in November, he seems more than capable of running just a little better than his mark of 142 and he’s had plenty of time to recover from those exertions.
The oldest horse on our shortlist at 11, Modus isn’t set for a career peak but that’s not what is needed of his current official rating of 150.
In fact, he’s even only that high having routed his field in a 2½-mile handicap chase at Aintree back in November so we know he’ll be more than happy around here, especially now that the ground has dried out a little.
He was a fair third here on soft ground in December but he’ll need to do better than that here, which he remains capable of.
We do like the look of Nicky Henderson’s Caribean Boy, but were taken with how much more there may be left to come from Precious Cargo and so it is felicitous that Nico de Boinville should be on board this one as it appears to suggest the stable think he’ll go well too.
Last season in winning his chase debut, running second at Newbury, third at Warwick and falling two out at Cheltenham he did well without really improving much from race to race.
Precious Cargo began this season slowly when beaten in a match with Master Tommytucker, before running fifth at Warwick in February.
He did tire late that day however which wouldn’t be expected here, while that performance was also on energy-sapping ground. He should strip much fitter now and if improving just a little from last season, then he’s bang in with a chance.
We’ve already mentioned recently that Sue Smith’s horses, despite being genuinely very well trained, are so often overlooked and in Ravenhill Road she has a superb chance in this race.
His overall profile as a chaser, which contains 12 runs, is one of an improving animal and so being in great form we can expect him to reach a new level now.
He was excellent last time out in winning by over 7 lengths at Doncaster and even off a 9lb higher mark can go well again.
You may not think that form figures of -1274 would have us especially excited, but there is a lot to like about Senior Citizen’s profile.
A winner over this trip at both Fakenham and Newton Abbot, Alan King’s eight-year-old pretty much bombed out around here in the Sefton in December but that was on very different ground.
He plugged on for seventh that day and recovered nicely to improve when staying on for a very fair fourth after a break at Newbury in the Greatwood last time out, so now that he is back to his best fitness and he tackles this trip again we should see him resume his career improvement.
If he does improve, then he is the best handicapped horse we can spot in this line-up which makes him good value in the market under Adrian Heskin.
Precious Cargo remains of interest for Nicky Henderson, while Ravenhill Road is the solid one after his terrific win last time out.
At the weights and taking into consideration likely improvement however, SENIOR CITIZEN is the most fascinating horse in the line-up and gets the vote at a nice price.