This brings together a few of the principles from both the Arkle Chase and the Jewson Chase from the Cheltenham Festival. It is given added spice by the inclusion of the improving mare Pepite Rose.
Al Ferof will definitely be better for this step up in trip and is the highest rated horse in the field at 160. He lost his chance with a bad mistake last time out in the Arkle Chase but, provided he has recovered from that, he will be a very strong contender here. Cristal Bonus disappointed at Cheltenham but was found to be suffering from an abscess.
Menorah is trying two-and-a-half miles for only the second time in his career and is easily passed over for this contest. He looked a non-stayer on his only previous attempt at this trip and his stamina limitations are likely to be found out up the long Aintree straight.
Pepite Rose only competed in her first chase on February 29; since then she has been raised 39 pounds to her current mark of 150. In that time she has won four relatively weak races in impressive fashion and has jumped with great aplomb. This is by far her stiffest challenge thus far and, although she needs to find a few more pounds to continue her winning run, she cannot be ruled out with confidence.
Al Ferof needs to be forgiven his latest effort. He could potentially go off a bigger price than he should due to the difficulty most bettors have in forgiving one below-par performance.