A fantastically exciting full field of 30 runners go to post for the 2m5f Topham Chase, really whetting the appetite for what is to come on Grand National day!
Of the 30 there are naturally plenty in with chances, not least these six:
Nicky Henderson’s mare won nicely at Bangor in February before taking on the likes of Pic D’Orhy and Millers Bank in Grade 2 company. She couldn’t quite live with them, but acquitted herself very well and should do better again in time.
This trip seems perfect for her and she isn’t badly handicapped at all, though others may just have ducked even lower again under the handicapper’s radar.
Having won on both soft and good ground recently at places like Wincanton and Kempton, Emma Lavelle’s Killer Clown is certainly versatile and is heading very much in the right direction.
He’s been running for good money of late and more than holding his own, leaving us to think that there is no logical reason why he won’t put up another bold show in this race under jockey Tom Bellamy.
Mac Tottie is more than a little interesting, though in the most obvious way.
Peter Bowen’s gelding actually won the Grand Sefton around here in November so has effectively done it all before. He was also sent to the Becher in December but fell at sixth.
It seemed his exertions took their toll, but it’s noted that he’s been coming back to himself at Kempton and Newcastle and is about ready to reach the required level once again. He’d be doing so off exactly the same mark as he won the Grand Sefton off, so his chance is clear.
We went for Mister Coffey in the Kim Muir of course and he was desperately unlucky in that race.
A well-backed 5/1 favourite, he was badly hampered at Cheltenham and made a couple of minor but crucial mistakes which ultimately cost him a festival victory.
Before that he was beaten by L’Homme Presse and while he is amazingly consistent, he hasn’t yet won over fences. We reckon he’s got the talent but can’t work out whether or not this trip is ideal for him.
Undoubtedly the most interesting runner in this field is Palmers Hill, representing JP McManus and Jonjo O’Neill.
A decent hurdler, he was first sent over fences back in late 2020. It’s only this season though that he has really shown what he can do and in fact he looks like the one with the most improvement left in him, something we can’t ignore in a handicap.
A winner at Wetherby in November, Palmers Hill then sauntered to victory at Ascot in December in the style of a horse really going places. He pulled up next time, no explanation could be found, but now he is back and could be very well in.
Had he won again at Ascot, which was expected, he’d have gone up another 6-8lbs. Instead, he remains on the same mark and yet could be better now which gives him the look of a well-treated animal.
Tamaroc Du Mathan
Paul Nicholls’ runner didn’t top our list in fairness, but is undoubtedly too big a price at around the 20/1 mark for this race.
Once second to Shishkin, Tamaroc Du Mathan hasn’t hit the heights of late but since reappearing in October has pulled up at Aintree, run to a mark of around 130 at Sandown and then to around 137 at Newbury.
He’s clearly getting better with each run. Another jump would get him to his real mark of 142 which makes him competitive.
We’re not certain that Mister Coffey is as well handicapped now, or that he really wants this trip as opposed to three miles and over. It’s possible he can win of course, but there are uncertainties to think about.
Mac Tottie has gone full circle this season. Winning around here off 135 in November, he’s gone up to a mark of 142, taken in a Becher Chase and a Welsh Grand National and then landed back here off a mark of 135 again.
There’s no doubt he has an outstanding chance, but the one who could be even better handicapped is PALMERS HILL and he gets the vote at a tasty price. Despite pulling up last time Jonjo O’Neill’s runner is heading generally in the right direction and can land this race.