With our original tip Kaki De La Pree (5/1) now a non runner, the race looks to be at the mercy of the Philip Hobbs runner Three Faces West (4/1) with Richard Johnson in the saddle. Wearing cheek pieces for the first time this afternoon, he was pulled up at Carlisle when sent off the Even money favourite with no obvious excuses but he has won on heavy ground and looks set to put in a far better effort here.
Top weight Firebird Flyer (9/2) is another who just loves the softer underfoot conditions with eight career wins in total (seven over fences), four on soft and three on heavy including the Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter in March over close to four and a quarter miles. Only put up three pounds for that, if this becomes a war then he may be the one with the strongest stamina, but then again he hasn’t been seen since that race and it may be asking too much of him to carry eleven stone twelve on this ground after a summer off.
Alan King’s Midnight Prayer (15/2) is no spring chicken at the age of eleven (and heading towards twelve), but he was certainly going well enough on his return at Cheltenham last Saturday before being brought down in a better race and he is another who could go well if that hasn’t affected his confidence. He is another with pretty decent form on a softer surface including a win at Exeter in February and a neck victory in the 2014 National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and although he won’t be getting any better at his age he could be the surprise package here.
Rounding off our article and Sue Smith will be hoping for a big run from De Vous A Moi (7/2) who hasn’t finished outside of the first two home in his last six races over fences, winning four of them including the last two at Wetherby and Newcastle. Still improving he will need a career best to shrug off a five-pound rise for his last victory and will need to be at his absolute best and more to be competitive in this stronger contest.