An Early Look Ahead To The Grand National - Five Horses With A Big Chance

1. Tiger Roll

An obvious contender, Gordon Elliott has confirmed that last year's National hero Tiger Roll will be returning to the scene of his great triumph.

The 9yo - who stormed to a second near twenty-five length success in the Glenfarcas Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last week will bid to become the first horse to win back-to-back Grand Nationals since the great Red Rum did so back in the 70's.

The weights for the world's greatest steeplechase took place before his fourth career victory at the Festival, and looks well in at the handicap from last year's performance.

Looks a natural over these unique fences, and is currently going to be sent off the shortest priced favourite in years.

2. Rathvinden

Last year's winner of the four-mile National Hunt Challenge Cup chose to sidestep the Cheltenham Festival this time around, after his win at Fairyhouse in the Bobbyjo Chase demanded a bit of extra rest.

Opinions remain divided on whether going to Cheltenham is the best preparation before heading to Aintree three weeks later - as five of the last ten National winners did including Gordon Elliott's Tiger twelve months ago, whereas five did not.

Trainer Willie Mullins is optimistic however with his chances having broke his Gold Cup duck last week, and has chosen to go down the same route he took with 2005 National hero Hedgehunter with this 11yo.

Rathvinden, who has proved he can stay the lengthy distance, looks a big player in this.

3. Anibale Fly

Over the last two years, Anibale Fly has only won one race in eleven attempts for Tony Martin, but more must be said about his actual performances in those contests.

He has finished third and second in the last two renewals of the Cheltenham Gold Cup - a race rich in depth, running past beaten horses to nab valuable places on the run-in.

The 8yo was a good fourth in this steeplechase last year, and was saving his best work until last. He stays and stays, and has demonstrated his ability to jump the National fences fluently.

Has to be in with another chance of a place, but deserves better.

4. Lake View Lad

Away from the current top three in the market, Lake View Lad has been in fine form this term for Nick W Alexander, and stayed on noticeably well to finish third in the Ultima Handicap Chase over three miles at the Cheltenham Festival.

That effort suggested he wants further distance to cover, and could be a dark player in this and thus a leading hope for the hosts.

Prior to his exploits last week, he has progressed nicely with two wins from two this term, striking at Wetherby and Newcastle in December.

Sports some very famous silks in this Spring feature - the colours of Trevor Hemmings, who has won the race with Hedgehunter, Ballabriggs and most recently Many Clouds.

5. Step Back

Step Back is a horse who we have touched on a few times this season here on The Winners Enclosure, and remains an ideal sort for the National after his victory in the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown on the final day of last season.

The form of that race speaks volumes, with most of the horses from the top ten all winning subsequently.

Mark Bradstock is in search of a new flagbearer after the retirement of Coneygree earlier in the campaign, and Step Back's performances on the track this season have allowed him to keep his weight down and still managed to retain his place in the top 40 of the National field.

A winner of a few PTP's, he is a lightly raced 9yo in the National Hunt sphere, so should have plenty more to come.