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Friday, 9 April 2021

The 2021 Grand National - final thoughts

The Grand National.
A race with a history entwined in not just horseracing, but the nation.
This blog is to try and find the winner from the final 40 horses declared to run on Saturday.
When I looked at this race last week, I arrived at the following selections based on what horses were expected to run.
The Storyteller:  22/1 generally 5-places 5th-odds (William Hill)
Acapella Bourgeois:  33/1 qtr-odds 5-places generally
Anibale Fly:  33/1 qtr-odds 5-places generally
Takingrisks:  40/1 qtr-odds 5-places generally
Lord Du Mesnil:  33/1 qtr-odds 5-places generally
The Storyteller was withdrawn at the 48hr declaration stage, so my £3 ew stake was refunded.
I have £3 ew on the remaining 4 selections.

Most bookmakers will be offering 6-places to 5th odds a place.
Bet365 have a great offer to existing clients in offering a 50% immediate cash-back on ew wagers up to a maximum of £125, but they are only paying 5th odds on the 1st-5.
I'm looking for potential 1st-6 finishers.
Top-weight with 11st 10lb will be Bristol De Mai: He will have no problems with the ground (good-to-soft) and being a prominent runner he should go well.  I just worry about the weight and the trip. Since the distance was revised, there have been 7 GN's and 11 horses carrying 11st or more have finished in the 1st-6 (most bookmakers will be paying on the 1st-6 places) from the 42 places available, which is 15.2%. The number of horses in those 7 years carrying 11st or more is 77, or 28% of the total runners (which was 276): so horses with 11st+ are good to go. However, only 3 of those 11 carried more than 11st 5lb. If you combine that with the fact that in the 3 longest races he's run in he's not seen out the trip, he might struggle over the final half-mile.
Chris's Dream is on a tough handicap mark of OR164, and while he's won over 3-miles I think that's his limit, and the jockey doesn't inspire confidence.
Yala Enki needs soft ground and while he will stay all day long, he's a bit of a plodder, but he could make the 1st-6 finishers, and Bryony Frost gets the best out of him, at 33/1 he's interesting.
This will be the 2nd GN for Ballyoptic, and I can't see him winning, or finishing, as he appears to have lost his sparkle this season.
Ditto Definitly Red: he's not the horse he once was, he's unlikely to finish.  
The same for Lakeview Lad, his career is going backwards, and is unlikely to be in the places. 

That's everything with more than 11st to carry, and the only one likely to be in the 1st-6 is the 33/1 chance Yala Enki . Of those with under 11st to carry:-
Burrows Saint (10st 13lb) won the Irish GN in Apr19, and has been aimed at this race all season. He ran a good prep race LTO, and the ground & trip will suit him. He'll go close, and he's 8/1.
Magic Of Light was 2nd to Tiger Roll in 2019, and she could well run another good race, but she's been campaigned much differently this time, and I feel she's had her chance.
Acapella Bourgeois is a prominent runner who will be "in the van" throughout, he comes here in good form and has a fair weight (10st 12lb) and he's interesting, latest odds 20/1.
I don't think Talkischeap is good enough, he's certainly not OR155 level. 
Tout Est Permis was one of my Cheltenham Antepost's that didn't run and he then went and fell LTO (blood found in nose post-race), he's not one I'm confident over.
Another aimed at this race is Anibale Fly: twice placed in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and twice placed in the GN, he looks "chucked-in" off OR155 with 10st 12lb. He looks a place certainty, and odds of 25/1 look attractive.
Mister Malarky is a right-hand track specialist, and I think he'll not enjoy this race; he's the sort who cold be in the 1st-3 or pull-up after 3 fences, and I'm more inclined to the latter.
Kimberlite Candy handles this course well having come 2nd twice in the December "Becher" Chase over 3m2f. He runs best off a long break and he's sure to go well, he's 10/1.
Any Second Now is one that's been aimed at this race, and as a "Kim Muir" winner over 3m2f he should be capable of being involved, but he's looked one-paced in other races of 3-mile or more. 
Balko Des Flos hasn't won a race since March 2018, he's been highly tried though and will stay this trip, so he may well complete, but in his own time. 
Alpha Des Obeaux is another who has seen better days, and I doubt he will complete.
One horse I've never rated is Ok Corral and while he's won at 3-miles, I really can't see him winning this as he finished lame LTO.
He may be a 12yo, but Takingrisks is in top form this season, and he's won a Scottish GN, so the ground and trip hold no worries. He won competitive handicap LTO and I'm happy I took 40/1 on him as he's now 25/1 and that looks decent still, as he should be in the 1st-6. 
I was surprised to see Shattered Love declared for this race, as this mare isn't good enough. 
Jett is another who may struggle in this race, and is not likely to complete. 
When I saw the weights published for this year, the first horse on my list was Lord Du Mesnil, and he duly went and won the GN Trial at Haydock over 3m4f on 20Feb. His 2nd in the NH Chase over 3m6f at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival showed that he stays the trip at top-level, and while he would prefer softer ground, he's going to take some beating: he's 33/1.
The December 2019 Welsh National winner Potters Corner loves these marathon races, and he's not very many miles on his clock for an 11yo. He'd probably prefer soft ground on the day, and he's not going to be far away if he completes, but that's debatable.
Class Conti is on a tough handicap mark considering his last win was as a novice chaser over 2m5f. However, he should stay this trip but at his own pace, and may make the 1st-6.
Milan Native, who I had a wager on when disappointing LTO, should be capable of going well; but I'm not a fan of winners of the "Kim Muir" chase in this race.  In his favour he has the top amateur rider Mr JJ Codd in the saddle, and he will make sure this horse gets the best of the opportunity: at 33/1 he looks interesting.
There's been a lot of money for Discorama and he was the 2nd horse on my list (there were only 2) when the weights came out: I wish I had followed my instinct as both Lord Du Mesnil and Discorama were 40/1 at the time. Discorama has only won once by he's run some great races in defeat, I just feel OR149 is a bit high for him to be able to win this race, but he looks a good place chance at 14/1. 
Vieux Lion Rouge has had his chance, he loves this course but he doesn't stay the 4m2f trip.
Cloth Cap is the 9/2 fav, and looks chucked-in off OR148 considering his win LTO which suggests he's 10-14lb well-in.  But remember, he could only come 3rd behind Takingrisks in the Scottish GN off OR134, and he only meets that rival on 1lb better terms now when you compare the form via Aye Right who has been 2nd to both of them this season. 
I was surprised to see Cabaret Queen in this race, as I'm not confident of her staying the trip. 
Minellacelebration has run once over these fences and didn't shine. 
Canelo is an interesting horse, he may have been flattered to win the Rowland Meyrick handicap on Boxing Day as his OR147 rating is tough, but he's only an 8yo. He carries just 10st 4lb, and if he enjoys this race he could go well, there are much worse 40/1 chances.
The Long Mile ran well LTO which was the longest trip he's raced over, but whether he can step-up to this distance considering he's raced mainly over 2m4f is debatable.
The 11yo Give Me A Copper has had lots of problems so this will only be his 10th chase race. Winning this would be a miracle.
Farclas is another of my recent Cheltenham Festival anteposts, and he went close in the 2m4f handicap there.  Being a 7yo, history is against him as there hasn't been a 7yo winner since 1940, but I think he's a touch of class about him. 
Minella Times. There's nothing much between him and Farclas as they've met a couple of times this season; but whereas I feel Farclas has potential to stay 4m2f, I can't say the same about Minella Times, but you never know.  Odds of 9/1 are tight. 
Sub Lieutenant will be ridden by Tabitha Worsley who won the Foxhunters Chase over these fences in 2019. He's won over 3m1f but I feel this 12yo will struggle to complete
Hogan's Height qualified to run in this when winning the Grand Sefton Chase over these fences in Dec19, but his recent form is poor, and he will be lucky to complete.
Double Shuffle was a top-class chaser, but it's a long time since he was rated 160+ and he pulled up in the GN of 2017 when he was a much better horse than he is now.
Ami Desbois is interesting; this 11yo does stay well, and jumps well, and while he may not win he could be in the 1st-6: odds of 100/1 are attractive.
Blaklion was going well in this to be 4th in 2017, but he's been a shadow of himself in 3 runs this season (after 18 months off the track), unlikely to complete.

From the above, with the fav CLOTH CAP looking a sure-thing, we should concentrate on finding value in the places, and those worth considering are:-
Yala Enki  @ 33/1 - given number of contenders, he's too slow
Burrows Saint @ 8/1 too short in the betting
Acapella Bourgeois @ 20/1 - already on at 33/1 for £3 ew
Anibale Fly @ 25/1 - already on at 33/1 for £3 ew 
Kimberlite Candy @ 10/1 too short in the betting
Takingrisks @ 25/1 - already on at 40/1 for £3 ew 
Lord Du Mesnil @ 33/1 - already on at 33/1 for £3 ew
Milan Native @ 33/1 with Skybet 6-places 5th odds a place
Discorama @ 14/1 too short in the betting
Ami Desbois @ 100/1 with Skybet 6-places 5th odds a place

To my 4 existing £3 ew wagers, I'm adding MILAN NATIVE @ 33/1 and AMI DESBOIS @ 100/1
Making a total of 6 wagers @ £3 eachway = Total staked = £36

Aintree 2021 - Friday 9th April

After starting the day full of enthusiasm, I was quickly brought down to earth and (thankfully) didn't bet as strongly as I was going to.  
In the opening race, Protektorat was back to the form he showed last November, which is good but not "proper" Grade 1 winning form. If the handicapper is tough on him then he is going to find life extremely difficult next season. Not so The Shunter, who seemed to hit everything and still stayed in with a chance at the final fence; he could still be well-handicapped based on this run. As for Hitman, thankfully he's only a 5yo and has time to improve.  In the Juvenile Hurdle, we saw that Adagio has still not learned how to jump a hurdle but, even so, he came to the final flight looking to be going the best - before demolishing it! That was his chance gone, and Monmiral ran-on a fair winner, and on this form would have gone close in the Triumph Hurdle had he taken part.
As expected, the Betway Bowl Chase (Grade 1) did not take much winning. Only 5 finished the race, and three of those (Native River, Tiger Roll, and Aso) were well outclassed. It would not surprise me to see Native River retired now, he just does not have the pace for these "proper" Grade 1 races. The obvious disappointment was Mister Fisher, who appeared to be going very well till a bad mistake at the 11th fence, that rattled him.  He hadn't settled by the next, blundered through it, and lost his rider - game over. He's going to be hard to place now as he's obviously not Grade 1 standard, but is rated OR162. He could be hurdling next season like his stablemate, Top Notch.  Briefly, Clondaw Castle looked about to make a race of it, but Clan Des Obeaux showed the gulf between him - a two-time "King George" winner - and a decent handicapper at level weights.  On his day, Clan Des Obeaux is a very smart staying chaser and on this form he'd be well-capable of winning a 3rd King George next Boxing Day - so long as Monkfish, A Plus Tard, Minella Indo, Envoi Allan and Allaho don't make the trip over from Ireland!  Some pundits described this as a "monstrous" performance, but I doubt a repeat in the recent Gold Cup would have put him in the 1st-3.  Clan Des Obeaux is the UK's current best staying chaser but he might struggle to get into the Irish-trained top-10.
The Aintree Hurdle was another poor race for me; but it's difficult to know how Jason The Militant would have done had he not unseated his rider mid-race as until then he was going well. I'm not sure what happened with Song For Someone, he never settled and was pulled-up; but then he's had a long season and perhaps he's jaded and in need of a break. The race was won by Abacadabras who won a "slow-motion" finish beating handicapper Buzz into 2nd. Finally, RP Ratings have agreed with me on assessing a race, as normally they look at a horse like Buveur D'Air in 4th and use that horses rating as the benchmark. By careful placement, Abacadabras won his 2nd senior Grade 1 race here, but grade 1 performance it wasn't.

Friday looks another tricky card, opening with a 22-runner handicap hurdle.  The Grade 1 novices hurdle over an extended 2-miles looks another tricky contest, not least because Nicky Henderson sends Dusart from off a 155-day break. I would be tempted to oppose this 2/1 fav; but what with?   

The 3m1f Grade 1 novices Chase is next, and I'm tempted to go with Fiddlerontheroof who showed he stayed 3-miles in the "Brown Advisory" Chase at the Festival and looks to be one of the better UK-based novice chasers. He's been very consistent through his career, and given his improvement at recent races at 3-mile, his form as a novice hurdler last season around 2-mile is seen in a better light. I don't think he had a tough race at Cheltenham behind Monkfish, and he looks under-rated - but so far, Cheltenham Festival runners haven't done well here at Aintree. 

The Queen Mother Champion Chase was run without defending champion Politologue last month, as blood was seen in his nostrils in the paddock before the race and he was withdrawn. Given he pulverised stablemate Greaneteen in the Tingle Creek in December, and Greaneteen was only btn 2-lengths in the QMCC, you have to think that Politologue is just about the best 2-mile chaser in training at the moment.  The question is the trip: he's won this race before in 2018, and he's won over 2m5f at Ascot, but he's about 7lb better at 2-mile than he is at 2m4f. Remember, he was easily swept aside in this race in 2019 the winner Min. There's another C&D winner in the race and that's Nuts Well: he beat Clondaw Castle over 2m4f here in October, and before that he beat Aye Right over an extended 2-mile at Kelso - and both of those beaten horses have promoted the form since then.  Yes, he's a 10yo and he'd never win a QMCC, but he comes here fresh and capable of running a cracker. The other horse coming here fresh and in form is Dashel Drasher, and he's improved with every run this season and there's no reason why Master Tommytucker who he beat LTO should reverse the placings. The fav is the Irish-trained Fakir D'oudairies who has a rating of OR162, but for the life of me I don't know why! He had a hard race LTO at Cheltenham, and he's never looked much better than a 155-rated 2-miler to me who always seems to find one better in the race - and he was beaten 12-lengths by Notebook last November! The Henry De Bromhead team seem to have gone off the boil with 1 win from 36 runners in the past 14-days, and so I have to pass-over Notebook.  I'm looking at Nuts Well and Dashel Drasher to fight out the finish, with Politologue coming in a gallant 3rd: and as I can't split the pair, I will be putting them in a reverse forecast.  

The Topham Trophy Chase is one to watch, although I may have a small wager on Storm Control who loves to bowl along in front and is a bold jumper of a fence, he may take some catching. 

The Sefton Novices Hurdle (Grade 1) over 3-miles is headed by Bravemansgame trained by Paul Nicholls who has his horses in great form. However, this one was exposed at the Cheltenham Festival over 2m5f and there's nothing in his pedigree to suggest that he's a better horse at 3-mile. As such, I'm going for the Irish raider of Emmet Mullins in Cape Gentleman who has won over 2m4f on heavy ground, and looks under-exposed.  He's a decent price too at 11/2; but this isn't a race to get heavily involved in as there are too many imponderables and unexposed horses trying a new trip.

As I'm giving the 22-runner handicap hurdle the closes the meeting a swerve, I can continue to delve into the Grand National runners and will likely post up my blog on the great race later this evening.

Suggested wagers:
3:25 Marsh Chase
DASHEL DRASHER and NUTS WELL
2 x straight-forecasts: £6 Dashel Drasher to beat Nuts Well  
and £4 Nuts Well to beat Dashel Drasher
Total staked = £10
  

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

Aintree 2021 - Thursday 8th April

I was going to hold this blog until the morning, but such is the gamble on one of my selections that I'm posting it now (Wednesday 6pm).  

The Aintree Grand National meeting is a strange one for me, as the air is thick with excitement for the big race on Saturday, but the early days of the meeting can sometimes struggle to meet the expectation. I tend to look at the meeting on the Thursday and Friday as just a normal day at the races, and this year with what looks like a much reduced Irish-trained contingent we possibly won't be seeing the quality of racing that we saw at Cheltenham recently.  

I don't have the historical race records for this meeting like I have for the Cheltenham Festival, so any trends and stat produced I have skimmed from other sources; but there are lots of stats sites in the internet. Remember, it's how you interpret the stats and trends that makes them of value.  his past week, I have been re-reading Nic Mordin's "Betting For a Living" and even though it was first published in 1992 it is a great read with lots of solid lessons for the punter. Nic has a relaxed, easy-to-read writing style, and I'm sure that I've styled my own selection procedure from the techniques he's used in his books. There's only one winner of a race, so find the likely losers and eliminate them from your race assessment: that's what stats and trends are best at - finding and eliminating losers.

The day opens with the Manifesto Novices Chase over 2m4f, and the UK-trained novice chasers were exposed as over-rated at the recent Festival, so we have to query the ratings of OR151 for the 5yo Hitman (earned for 2nd to Allmankind on 05Dec), and OR150 for Protektorat (earned for winning a 4-runner race at Cheltenham on 13Nov).  The Cheltenham winner The Shunter is worthy of OR153 and he could be the answer if in similar form.  I marked Fusil Raffles as one for the future when 2nd at Cheltenham to his stablemate Chantry House; but that pair were fortunate to benefit from the fall of Envoi Allen. A rating of OR155 for Fusil Raffles suggests the handicapper has rated the race and not the performance. Eldorado Allen tackles a trip further than 2-miles for the first time and he is improving with every run. If any takes my eye, it's the David Pipe runner Umbrigado who gets the trip and has won his last 3 races, he looks one to include on the forecast's with The Shunter and Eldorado Allen (as he has the best speed rating).

The Juvenile Hurdle over 2m1f is dominated by the Triumph Hurdle 2nd Adagio, and Monmiral who did not race at the Festival. I will be surprised if any of the other 4 runners get close to this pair, and for me Adagio is the one with the potential to improve as he was let-down by his hurdling LTO and if he hurdles better this time then we could see a much better performance. It is not unusual for those that have run well in the Triumph Hurdle to run well and win this race, and Adagio is the one for me.

The Betway Bowl Chase is a Grade 1 race that's been on this card for decades. This year looks like being a disappointing vintage as only 2 of the 9 runners are younger than 9yo, and while we do have a Gold Cup winner in the race, it is 11yo Native River who won that in 2018 (3 years ago). The race fav is Clan Des Obeaux, and this two-time winner of the "King George" at Kempton over 3-mile has raced  6-times beyond 3-miles (twice in this race) and not won: the trip of 3-miles seems to be his limit. Trainer Paul Nicholls has him in 1st-time cheek-pieces to see if they can galvanise him.  If Native River wins this race after a hard slog at Cheltenham, then I will cheer him home and wish him a happy retirement, but sentiment does not win races. The last time dual Grand National winner Tiger Roll ran on a standard chase course, way back in Nov2017, he was rated OR151.  Sure, he's been a better horse than that since - but not much better - and I'd want 20/1 about him for this race. There are 3 other most unlikely winners of this race: Militarian (totally outclassed), Aso who is well-past his best, and Real Steel who will one day get his act together, but when?  That, in my opinion, leaves 3 potential winners: Waiting Patiently, Clondaw Castle and Mister Fisher. 
Some trends for this race: 
28 of the last 30 winners had winning form over 3-miles; 
19 of the last 28 winners had won a race over 3-miles earlier in the season 
10 of the last 13 winners had at least 10 chase races prior to this
Waiting Patiently: hasn't won at 3-miles, and hasn't won this season; but ran a good 2nd in the "King George" on Boxing Day. He won some good novice chases going left-handed as a novice chaser, but all best form since has been on right-handed tracks. This years "King George" form hasn't worked-out well, and when he ran here in 2019 as an 8yo, he ran poorly.
Clondaw Castle: won over 3-miles at Kempton LTO which is a positive, but on 11Dec he was outclassed by Mister Fisher who was giving him 3lb.  He is also prone to minor jumping errors, and lacks tactical speed which is required for Grade 1 racing. He was race-fit for the 11Dec race having won at Newbury on 27Nov, so no excuses there. He doesn't look good enough to win a Grade 1 chase.
Mister Fisher: hasn't won at 3-miles, and has only run in 7 chase races - so the trends say he's no chance! However, he's run his last 5 chases at graded level, winning twice. His dam is a half-sister to Frascati Park who won his only completed race at 3-mile in his brief chase career, so Mister Fisher should stay the trip. He also didn't run between 11Dec and the Ryanair Chase on 18Mar, so he's race-fit for this. At the odds, he's 8/1, he looks a good wager. 

The Grade 1 Aintree Hurdle over 2m4f is another permanent fixture with a great history. This year, not a single horse with a rating over OR160 is entered, which is disappointing [Correction: Silver Streak is rated OR163]. In 2019, there were 3 of the 7 starters rated OR160+, as there was in 2018 and 2017.  As such, this race should not take much winning. Nicky Henderson must think Buveur D'Air still has some zip, but I really don't expect him to win this race, as he couldn't win it in 2019 when much better prepared. To be honest, I can't work out why McFabulous is the fav, and I don't know why he has an OR158 rating, as his limitations were exposed at Fontwell on 28Feb. He was beaten that day by Brewin'upastorm but they meet on level weights this time, and there won't be much between them.  The 2020 Supreme Hurdle winner Abacadabras has not progressed this season and his OR158 rating is based on his novice hurdle form. The 6yo Song For Someone has been a late developer since arriving at Tom Symonds yard in Nov18 as a 3yo, and it took a year for him to grow into his frame, but he's always shown ability. In winning the Grade 2 International Hurdle at Cheltenham on 12Dec as a 5yo beating seasoned campaigner Silver Streak (who rec 2lb), he showed he was worthy of a place at the top table. Yes, he was put in his place by Goshen LTO, but forget that margin of defeat, he is more than worthy of his OR158 rating.  PaddyPower offer 12/1, 4-places ew and that looks very generous to me. Finally, the Henry De Bromhead trained Jason The Militant: I'm already on him at 7/1 taken as soon as the declarations came out.  "Jason" first showed his ability winning a Grade 2 hurdle on 23Feb2020, beating Beacon Edge (4th in the Stayers Hurdle last month).  After a couple of indifferent races in the autumn, he won a Grade 3 on 27Feb beating good yardstick Petit Mouchoir easily.  That suggested he was capable of a 160+ performance, but will he stay 2m4f? Tough question, and we will likely have to wait until the result of this race to find out.  For me, the only two worth considering for the race are Song For Someone and Jason The Militant, and that's the pair I'm putting in a forecast.

Suggested wagers:
2:50pm Betfair Bowl: MISTER FISHER, £5 eachway & £5 win @ 8/1
A proper Grade 1 chaser, possessing pace and class, comes here race-fit and unexposed

3:25pm Aintree Hurdle: JASON THE MILITANT, £5 win @ 3/1
Improving and unexposed, has Grade 1 potential

Straight Forecasts:
£3 Jason The Militant to beat Song For Someone
£2 Song For Someone to beat Jason The Militant

Total staked = £25.00 

Friday, 2 April 2021

Grand National - early thoughts

The Grand National.
A race with a history entwined in not just horseracing, but the nation.
It wasn't run last year due to covid; but it's back next week and the race looks like being a cracker.  The field is packed with decent horses.
This blog is to try and find a few interesting antepost wagers that give us a chance of having a decent win. If I have time then I will add a few notes on the Irish Grand National run on Easter Monday.
As you can see, I'm starting this with a clean slate, no pre-formed ideas - I find writing the blog helps me assess the form in an unbiased fashion.
Top-weight with 11st 10lb will be Bristol De Mai, as he's guaranteed a run and in trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies who won the race with Bindaree, he's in good hands. He will have no problems with the ground (good-to-soft) and being a prominent runner he should go well.  I just worry about the weight and the trip. Since the distance was revised, there have been 7 GN's and 11 horses carrying 11st or more have finished in the 1st-6 (most bookmakers will be paying on the 1st-6 places) from the 42 places available, which is 15.2%. The number of horses in those 7 years carrying 11st or more is 77, or 28% of the total runners (which was 276): so horses with 11st+ are good to go. However, only 3 of those 11 carried more than 11st 5lb. If you combine that with the fact that in the 3 longest races he's run in he's not seen out the trip, he might struggle over the final half-mile.
The Storyteller is interesting; he's a top-class chaser but I feel the handicapper has been a bit tough on him with OR165. That and he likes to be covered-up in his races and he may need a bit of luck, but I expect him to stay the trip well.
Chris's Dream is another on a tough handicap mark of OR164, and while he's won over 3-miles I think that's his limit.
Yala Enki needs soft ground and while he will stay all day long, he's a bit of a plodder.
This will be the 2nd GN for Ballyoptic, and I can't see him winning.
Ditto Definitly Red: he's not the horse he once was.  The same for Lakeview Lad, his career is going backwards. 
That's everything with more than 11st, and of those the only one that tempts me is The Storyteller.
Burrows Saint (10st 13lb) won the Irish GN in Apr19, and has been aimed at this race all season. He ran a good prep race LTO, and the ground & trip will suit him. He'll go close.
Magic Of Light was 2nd to Tiger Roll in 2019, and she could well run another good race, but she's been campaigned much differently this time, and I feel she's had her chance.
Acapella Bourgeois is a prominent runner who will be in the van throughout, he comes here in good form and has a fair weight (10st 12lb) and he's interesting.
I don't think Talkischeap is good enough. Tout Est Permis was one of my Cheltenham Antepost's that didn't run and he then went and fell LTO (blood found in nose post-race), he's not one I'm confident over.
Another aimed at this race is Anibale Fly: twice placed in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and twice placed in the GN, he looks "chucked-in" off OR155 with 10st 12lb. He looks a place certainty.
Mister Malarky is a right-hand track specialist, and I think he'll not enjoy this race.
Beware The Bear is too slow - he's need to be at his very best to win this. His stablemate Pym is more interesting, as he's a prominent runner and was going well till blowing-up 4-out at Cheltenham. That was his first run since November, and he will be a lot fitter next week.  I like the look of Pym.
There are many Irish-trained entries and some look speculative. Any Second Now is one that's been aimed at this race, and as a "Kim Muir" winner over 3m2f he should be capable, but he's looked one-paced in other races of 3-mile or more. Balko Des Flos hasn't won a race since March 2018, and Alpha Des Obeaux is another who has seen better days. I'll be surprised if Brahma Bull starts the race, but if he does he needs he will need to have recovered his novice chase form to go well. 
One horse I've never rated is Ok Corral and I really can't see him winning this as he finished lame LTO.
He may be a 12yo, but Takingrisks is in top form this season, and he's won a Scottish GN, so the ground and trip hold no worries. 
I will be surprised if Shattered Love lines-up and this mare isn't good enough. Ditto Jett. As for The Jam Man, he'd an interesting entry, and just the sort who might be thereabouts coming to 2-out.
When I saw the weights published for this year, the first horse on my list was Lord Du Mesnil, and he duly went and won the GN Trial at Haydock over 3m4f on 20Feb. His 2nd in the NH Chase over 3m6f at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival showed he stays the trip at top-level, and he's going to take some beating.
Dec19 Welsh National winner Potters Corner loves these marathon races, and he's not many miles on the clock for an 11yo. He'd probably prefer it soft on the day, but he's not going to be far away.
Class Conti is on a tough handicap mark considering his last win was as a novice chaser over 2m5f.
Milan Native, who I had a wager on when disappointing LTO, should be capable of going well; but I'm not a fan of winners of the "Kim Muir" chase in this race.
There's been a lot of money for Discorama and he was the 2nd horse on my list (there were only 2) when the weights came out: I wish I had followed my instinct as both Lord Du Mesnil and Discorama were 40/1 at the time. Discorama has only run once by he's run some great races in defeat, I just feel OR149 is a bit high for him to be able to win this race. 
I feel Vieux Lion Rouge has had his chance, he loves this course but he doesn't stay the 4m2f trip.
Cloth Cap is the 7/2 fav, and looks chucked-in off OR148 considering his win LTO which suggests he's 10-14lb well-in.  But he could only come 3rd behind Takingrisks in the Scottish GN off OR134, and meets that rival on 1lb better terms now, and that is confirmed on a line thru' Aye Right who has been 2nd to both of them this season. 
I will be surprised if Cabaret Queen and Minellacelebration line-up for this race.
Canelo is an interesting horse, he may have been flattered to win the Rowland Meyrick handicap on Boxing Day as his OR147 rating is tough, but he's only an 8yo and may enjoy this race.
The Long Mile ran well LTO which was the longest trip he's raced over, but whether he can step-up to this distance considering he's raced mainly over 2m4f is debatable.
The 11yo Give Me A Copper has had lots of problems so this will only be his 10th chase race. Winning this would be a miracle.
Farclas is another of my recent Cheltenham Festival anteposts, and he went close in the 2m4f handicap.  He also holds an entry in the Topham Trophy earlier in the meeting, and I expect this 7yo will go for that, but if he runs in this race, I have high expectations as I think he's a touch of class about him.
That's the top-40 in the entries, so any others with lower handicaps require some of those above to withdraw. From my notes above, possibly 8 will not run, but I can't see anything lower being worth a mention; not even Minella Times. There's nothing much between him and Farclas as they've met a couple of times this season; but whereas I feel Farclas has potential to stay 4m2f, I can't say the same about Minella Times 
From the above, the latest odds on those that are worth considering are:-
The Storyteller: is 22/1 generally 5-places 5th-odds (William Hill)
Burrows Saint: is 12/1 qtr-odds 4-places (Skybet) and 10/1 generally
Acapella Bourgeois: is 33/1 qtr-odds 5-places generally
Anibale Fly: is 33/1 qtr-odds 5-places generally
Takingrisks: is 40/1 qtr-odds 5-places generally
Lord Du Mesnil: is 33/1 qtr-odds 5-places generally
Personally, I think 12/1 about Burrows Saint is a bit on the short-side, so for now I'm going to pass on him. But the other 5 horses all have scope to be placed in the 1st-5 and I could find a winner.
It's £3.00 eachway on all 5, which is £30 staked.