Punters looking for some early clues in relation to finding a Grand National winner should pay close attention to a race at Haydock next month which may offer some valuable insight.
At least three of the more fancied Grand National 2012 runners will line up at Haydock on February 18th for the Betfred Grand National Trial and will be keen to use the race as a springboard to Aintree.
Some 47 horses have been entered for Haydock, with the most interesting of the runners seemingly being Junior, West End Rocker and perhaps most notably Time For Rupert.
Although no horses have previously won the trial and gone on to triumph again at Aintree, a solid performance at Haydock could prove the ideal final preparation ahead of the big race.
Mon Mome disappointed slightly in seventh in the Grand National Trial in 2009 before landing the spoils at Aintree two months later.
Junior is currently towards the head of the Grand National betting at 14/1 and has not been seen since a summer campaign on the Flat, meaning that a Haydock appearance should help him come on considerably ahead of Aintree.
West End Rocker has been the form horse of the season having already won over the Aintree fences in the Becher Chase, which has seen him shorten to 20/1 to triumph in the Grand National.
However, most eyes will be watching to see if Time For Rupert stays the trip.
Time For Rupert must be considered the class horse in early contention to win the Grand National and there is a strong possibility that he could make his current odds of 25/1 look silly.
He does have a previous victory over 3m1f to his name from his novice chasing days, but this is the furthest he will have ever competed over.
If Time For Rupert does stay the 3m4f at Haydock and gets a generous weight off the handicapper when the Grand National weights are released on Valentine’s Day, he would certainly have leading claims.
It would also make it worthwhile that connections forewent plans to run him in the Cheltenham Gold Cup to instead target the Grand National.