Besides pin-pointing the Grand National winner, deciding which Cheltenham Festival horses to back and which to swerve at Aintree is the meeting’s central conundrum.
Several horses to run with credit in March are out again on Merseyside for the three-day bonanza, with a diverse range of motivations.
Some, such as Ivanovich Gorbatov, Annie Power and On The Fringe are aiming to win a second successive spring Festival race.
Others are out to atone for calamitous errors (Cue Card, Garde La Victoire), while another larger cohort will be looking to avenge promising performances in defeat in the absence of their Cheltenham conquerors.
From this sizeable delegation of Prestbury Park 2016 survivors, news.ladbrokes have selected three who look likely to score at backable odds.
In a world where Douvan doesn’t exist the selection has won eight of his nine races over obstacles, with Shaneshill the sole rival ever to have bested him.
At a meeting where it is so hard to predict which Festival horses will still be at the top of their games that consistency should stand his backers in good stead.
L’Ami Serge and Garde La Victoire will likely dispute favouritism with the Henry De Bromhead representative.
However, the former has never won on ground faster than soft, while the latter arrives on the back of the first fall of a 17-race career.
Veterans of the same season’s Cheltenham Festival four-year-old contests tend to hold sway in this race, with the highest-placing Triumph Hurdle runner landing seven of the last 10 renewals and Fred Winter medalists taking another two.
With this year’s Triumph 1-2 among the less-exposed runners, it would be little surprise if the same result transpires at Aintree – the winner looking a cut above second-placed Apples Jade.
For a horse with his tendency to throw in the odd jumping clanger, it’s perhaps surprising that Cue Card’s Cheltenham Gold Cup fall was the first of his 29-race career.
With his ability to bounce back from such a mishap unproven, the temptation is to look elsewhere and Don Poli appeals at an each-way price.
He may have finished 10 lengths adrift of Djakadam at Prestbury Park, but unlike that one there is the suspicion that he didn’t run his race that day.
The ground was arguably a little bit too fast for him on that occasion and marginally softer going should see him in a better light over a course and distance where he won in the autumn.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.