The Last Samuri
He was second in the race last year and was second in his preparation race during March when beaten by Definitely Red who was carrying 12lb less weight. The Last Samuri was staying on at the finish when outpaced earlier in that 3m 2f contest at Doncaster.
More Of That
Won the Cheltenham World Hurdle in 2014 and has not really progressed as a chaser but was not disgraced in the Cheltenham Gold Cup when sixth, and could appreciate this longer distance.
He was second to Cue Card over 2m 5f at Ascot during February but there is no evidence to suggest that he will be competitive over this much longer distance. The Rebecca Curtis trained horse is a winner on good ground.
He is an experienced horse over 3m+ distances and carried top weight to win at Exeter over 3 miles during February, and is also a sound jumper.
Saphir Du Rheu
Seems to have been racing for many seasons but is still only 8-years-old. Finished fifth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and has raced against the top 3m+ chasers, but he may prefer softer ground.
Roi Des Francs
One of decent Irish Trainer Gordon Elliott’s hopefuls and he won over 3m 2f at Down Royal last month. However, there is a concern that he may not appreciate the drying ground.
He is another Irish horse who has not really progressed from finishing a decent third position in a top novice chase at the Cheltenham festival in 2015. In four races this season, he has barely troubled the judges.
He did not really enjoy this race last year when pulled up, but has run well this season over distances of three miles or further. He finished well when second at Cheltenham last month which followed two previous victories and can cope with drying ground.
He has enjoyed a consistent season and has won one race over three miles, but his previous form indicates a preference for running in the mud.
He was one of the best young chasers last season and won at the 2016 Cheltenham Festival. When finishing second to Vieux Lion Rouge over 3m 4f at Haydock during February, he was carrying nearly half a stone more in weight, and he is capable on racing in most ground conditions.
Drop Out Joe
He has not raced since June last year when winning over 3m 2f at Uttoxeter and his fitness may be questionable, but he has proven ability on drying ground.
He has won his three steeple chases over distances of less than three miles but he was beaten just three lengths by Cheltenham Gold Cup third placed horse Native River in his previous race and finished second to Many Clouds during December last year.
The Young Master
A horse who won a top stayers race at Sandow at the end last season on a good surface but who has yet to show much sparkle in three races this term. However, there were small signs of a return to form when running at Cheltenham last month.
Cause Of Causes
He won the big cross country event at last month’s Cheltenham festival over nearly four miles so his stamina is proven, and he likes to run on drying ground. Eighth in this race during 2015, he lost position early in the contest but was staying on at the finish. Another of the Gordon Elliott trained horses.
He can be a frustrating horse who sometimes decides not to bother racing, but when in the mood, he can be a decent performer as when winning at Ascot in December. His temperament is suspect for this race.
Vieux Lion Rouge
Although he has twice won this season over distances further than three miles, he was a well beaten seventh in this race last season and is set to carry more weight on Saturday.
The great hope of North East England has won three races this season and is a top performer over three miles or more, but his jumping can be suspect at times. He may also prefer some rain this week.
Another horse from the Gordon Elliott stable who prefers a test of stamina but may lack the speed to win a race having failed to claim first prize since moving to Ireland in December 2015. He was sixth last year.
This race will be his first test at a distance of more than three miles and although he won comfortably at Kempton over 3m during December, a much more difficult task awaits this weekend for a horse previously campaigned mainly over 2m 4f or shorter.
Houblon Des Obeaux
A horse who rarely features in a race less than three miles and is a seasoned campaigner. He recently finished fourth in Midlands Grand National carrying top weight, but may be lack the speed at the finish.
Trained by leading Irishman Willie Mullins, this is another horse preferring a test of stamina and he won over 3m 1f at Fairyhouse during February, but his best form may be reserved for soft underfoot conditions.
One For Arthur
A close fifth to Vieux Lion Rouge over this course in December, he has since won well at Warwick over 3m 5f, but ground conditions were testing that day and he may need a rainstorm this week.
Pulling up in all three of his competitive races this season does not offer much hope for this horse and the 11-year-old may have lost his enthusiasm for racing, although he may appreciate the ground conditions.
A winner at the Cheltenham festival during 2014, this horse has failed to be placed in any subsequent races and has been sliding down the horse racing ratings. He may be another horse with little appetite for competing.
A confirmed mudlark who won two decent races last season off a lower rating, but also ran creditably last time at Haydock during January without ever threatening to win the race.
An experienced campaigner who has won over the Grand National fences, and was a narrow second to Vieux Lion Rouge back in December at Aintree. Although he appears comfortable at distances between 3m and 3m 4f, he may just lack the stamina for 4m races.
A winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2014, this horse has failed to win a subsequent race and has only ever won at Cheltenham in this country. He was never in contention before pulling up in the 2015 Grand National.
This horse was second in the 2015 Grand National but failed to sparkle last year when among the leaders after the first circuit. Yet he prefers good ground and was a narrowly beaten second is his previous race during February when carrying a big weight.
He won the Scottish Grand National last season for champion trainer Paul Nicholls and although he has accomplished very little since that victory, the horse has proven stamina with a liking for Spring conditions.
Just A Par
Another horse trained by Paul Nicholls and who finished a well beaten fifteenth last season, but offered some encouragement by winning at Newbury last month. He will not be inconvenienced by the drying ground and has also won in muddier conditions.
This Irish horse has raced poorly in four subsequent races since winning twice early last year and finishing third in an event at the 2016 Cheltenham Festival. Appears to prefer testing ground.
Raz De Maree
A 12-year-old veteran who finished second behind Native River in the Welsh Grand National back in December and was then second in Ireland during March. However, the drying ground may not help his chances.
An Irish horse with unproven stamina who has yet to win beyond 2m 4f, but he will be saddled by decent Irish trainer Henry de Bromhead.
He was a well beaten thirteenth in this race last year, but was a narrow loser when finishing second in his only subsequent appearance at the Cheltenham Festival last month. That contest may have sharpened his fitness.
Another Irish contender who has rarely travelled to this country but did jump the Grand National fences last December without troubling the leaders. He may just lack the basic speed for this race but will be saddled by last year’s winning trainer Mouse Morris.
Cocktails At Dawn
He has failed to finish in two appearances this year and was distant fourth of five behind Many Clouds back in December. This horse was also a faller in the Topham Chase at Aintree last year.
Thunder And Roses
A horse who appears to prefer the mud and has not won race in nearly two years, but he has been placed in four Irish races during a busy Winter and is a former Irish National winner. Another contender for Mouse Morris.
Gas Line Boy
Approaching the veteran stage, this consistent horse has not finished outside the top four positions in six races during the past 12 months. However, he fell at the first fence in the 2015 Grand National.
A good test of stamina in the mud are his favourite conditions, but he disappointed in the recent Grand National trial at Haydock when pulled up well before the finish.
He displayed some promise last year when winning two races but never threatened in a 3m2f contest at the Cheltenham Festival last month, and was eventually tailed off before being pulled up.
A horse who was unlucky to beaten at Cheltenham on New Years Day but is not the most reliable of racers having being pulled up in two of his five last appearances.
Bless The Wings
A 12-year-old veteran who proved he still retains enthusiasm when finishing second in the cross country event at the Cheltenham Festival. He will also appreciate the drying ground and there are no stamina issues.
Representing the famous McCain stable, this horse appears to have lost some enthusiasm for the sport and was switched to hurdles at Haydock during February, but never threatened to win.
He won twice in testing conditions last year and finished a decent second in an Irish Grand National trial back in February, but he will not be favoured by drying ground.
Showed much promise when winning at Ayr during November but has been well beaten in two subsequent starts, and he may not be the most reliable of jumpers.
He has failed to finish in his latest two races after winning a decent event at Newbury prior to the New Year. A moody character who does retain some ability.
He last won a race in October 2015 and has only appeared four times since that victory culminating when pulling up in the Midlands Grand National last month after a length absence from the racecourse.
A first appearance in the UK and Ireland for this horse now trained by Willie Mullins, but he has not raced beyond three miles during his early career in France. It is a puzzling decision to enter the horse for this race, but it may be the owner’s choice.
Pulled up in his latest three appearances and not the most reliable of horses.
Lamb Or Cod
Can be a decent horse on his day, but he can also be a temperamental and is not always reliable on a racecourse.
Trainer Sue Smith is a previous winner of this race and this horse is a decent outsider who rarely runs a bad race without winning too many contests.