GIVEN the amount of rain around it was a miracle that all four of Saturday’s National Hunt cards survived the elements but survive they did, which gave us plenty of clues with regards to Aintree and plenty of horses stake their claims to line up in the first ever £1million Grand National.
Lion Na Bearnai got his head in front for the first time since winning the Irish National in 2012 and was cut to 40/1) with trainer Thomas Gibney hinting that a trip to Liverpool was on the 11-y-o's agenda.
Venetia Williams had a four-timer on the day with Relax bringing up a treble for her and jockey Aidan Coleman at Sandown, the 9-y-o cut to 25/1 (from 40s) for the Grand National Trial at Haydock, while her West Wales National winner Emperors Choice was cut in similar fashion; 25s from 40s after his comfortable win at Ffos Las.
There will be jump racing weather permitting at Southwell and all-weather action from Wolverhampton and Kempton.
The latter looking more interesting of the two and a cracking card.
Gary Moore and George Baker teamed up last week here to land a gamble on Top Diktat and I think we’ll see similar money Jubilee Brig (1.30) who chased home Mr David at Lingfield on Saturday.
Although having something to find on official ratings with the pair of Pabusar and Capone, he looks to be going the right way to land the claimer for a stable in cracking form.
The drop back to six furlongs shouldn’t hinder Welsh Sunrise (2.00) who was impressive when scoring here over seven furlongs last month.
George Baker retains the ride after guiding the filly home to land a gamble for the Stuart Williams stable on her last start and she looks well handicapped to defy a 3lb rise at the weights.
The Mark Johnston stable have had a fantastic time of things in 2014 with 11 winners from the trainer’s last 20 runners – a further three seconds in there to boot.
He saddles Beylerbey (3.30) and the well-bred daughter of Street Cry has a pedigree to suggest she will be suited to the polytrack surface more than most.
Johnston can double up with Penny Stock (5.00) in the mile and a half handicap, with the 4-y-o’s 3lb weight for age allowance coming in very handy.
The Dansili filly never went a yard when running at Southwell last week however prior to that was impressive at Wolverhampton.
That was her first start in handicap company from a lowly mark of 52 and she ran a terrific race to finish third behind an improving pair who have both ran well since.
She looks the most unexposed runner in the field and the one with the most potential to continue improving with the stable in terrific form.
Kempton's highlight is the Cheltenham 2014 NRNB at BetVictor.com Handicap and Ed Vaughan’s Legendary will be popular after finishing second at Lingfield and Wolverhampton but a chance can be given on Paul Cole's Silverheels (4.00) with Jim Crowley back on board. He has improved in two runs since returning from a short break, finishing three lengths behind Nassau Storm at Lingfield.
The 5-y-o was group class in his pomp but has trickled down to a mark of 80, which is 5lb behind his last winning mark at Ripon in July.