Neptune Collonges and Mon Mome are perhaps the two biggest names looking to use the Grand National Trial as the biggest springboard to Aintree, but Always Right may prove the horse to beat at Haydock at 7/1.
Always Right has done little wrong in the past 12 months, with the highlights being finishing second behind Beshabar in the last Scottish Grand National and then making a pleasing seasonal reappearance when winning at Kelso in December.
Things did not go so right on his latest outing when Always Right was pulled up at Wetherby, but he travelled strongly before stopping quickly, which suggested something was not quite right – excuse the pun.
However, the fact that the horse was backed into 2/1 favourite on the day shows how highly regarded he is among punters, while James Reveley chose the ride on Boxing Day instead of taking the mount on Diamond Harry in the King George, which is quite an endorsement.
Trainer John Wade believes everything is fine now at home and seven of the last ten winners of the Grand National Trial had previously finished in the first two of a National of some kind.
The other big factor in Always Right’s favour is that the last four winners of the 3m4f trial have entered with an official rating between 143 and 149.
This limits the whole field to just two runners, Always Right and Mon Mome, who is certainly getting no younger as a 12-year-old and has not taking particularly well to Haydock in the past.
In terms of the opposition, Gilles Cross may prove the big danger to Always Right if reproducing the performance which saw him finish second in the Welsh Grand National over Christmas.
He just failed to get home that day on heavy ground, but with conditions likely to be slightly firmer at Haydock this race should suit slightly better.
The one question mark is whether he is a definite starter as trainer Victor Dartnell has suggested that he may head to Newcastle for the Eider Chase instead later in February.
Punters willing to take a risk can back Gilles Cross at 5/1 to win the Grand National Trial.