We profile the 11 runners now set to go to post for Saturday's Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock.
One For Arthur
2017 Grand National winner who is reunited with Derek Fox, after unseating Tom Scudamore on his long-awaited return to the track in December. As the race-ending blunder came at the third fence, this is effectively his first run since that impressive Aintree success and it's perhaps a positive that the ground shouldn't bee too testing, even though he handles heavy - as it was when he won here over hurdles. Probably asking too much off a mark of 154 either way with this a definite stepping stone.
Good return from almost two years off in the Rehearsal Chase, finishing third, behind a pair who filled the same two spots at Wetherby next time. He'd have a solid chance on that, having been a distant second in this to Bristol De Mai two years ago, but does need to bounce back from a below-par run behind Valtor subsequently. Bounce could be the operative word (also made an early mistake) and as one who is unexposed for his years and represents a thriving yard, he's not dismissed.
Disappointing on the face of it when well held in fourth at Wetherby, but that was just his second run of the season, first over fences, and perhaps he still needed it a little. If that's the case, he's interesting now down to 146, just a pound higher than the mark from which he won last season's Sky Bet Chase. Won here over hurdles and yard have taken this race three times since the turn of the century.
Fragile sort who has been lightly-raced since winning a bumper on his debut almost six years ago. Winner of three of his subsequent 10 starts, including when last seen at Cheltenham in December 2017, and prior to that had run well here behind Chase The Spud (identical terms). Represents last year's winning yard and they can clearly ready one after an absence, but he'd be the first winner in some time to rock up here and land this competitive handicap on his first start of the campaign.
Seven-year-old who has won four of his eight starts over fences, all in handicap company, including here last time out over slightly shorter. Relished the heavy ground that day and connections will be hoping for as much rain as possible as he bids to defy a 6lb rise in the weights. Extra yardage should be ideal - has won over 3m2f on heavy and Tom Scudamore said 2m7f was on the sharp side - and while he's been labelled quirky, the first-time visor last time saw him impress when asked to go and win the race. Big player if the rain arrives.
Same mark as when second in this last year and third, not beaten far, back at the course in November. Certainly knows his way around the course and it's not difficult to forgive a disappointing run over the Grand National fences at Aintree in December. Ground on the soft side of good would be considered ideal by connections, who've always thought the world of him, and he should run his race as usual.
Chase The Spud
Strong stayer who has been first and second on his two visits to Haydock and would have a chance on both pieces of form. However, showed very little on his return to action at Sandown having been pulled up on all three previous starts in 2018. Given that conditions were ideal - and that he's gone very well fresh in the past - it's hard to enthuse about his prospects here as a result and he'd need plenty of rain to become interesting at a price.
Described as immature by his trainer when winning here in November, before almost following up at Sandown. Those efforts confirm that he's still improving and while 10lb higher than for the first of them, there should be plenty more to come over this sort of trip. Better ground will suit and he's been considered as a type for Nationals for a little while now. Looks to have a decent each-way chance.
Bits and pieces of form which would make him of interest, but ultimately only won a pair of Graduation Chases since switched from hurdles and all four wins across both codes have come outside of handicaps and in small fields. Bit better than the bare form when 30 lengths behind subsequent winner Aso at Newbury in November and has to be respected given connections, but does have questions to answer despite 3lb drop in weights.
Ran well under ideal conditions to chase home Daklondike last time, but is worse off with that rival in this limited handicap and potentially up against it as a result. Possible to argue that he's only now starting to fulfil his potential but while he'd have been interesting off a light weight on heavy, the better-than-usual ground may be against him and he's passed over.
Still progressing as an unexposed nine-year-old and nothing wrong with his second at Newbury three weeks ago, getting just a couple of pounds off a former Hennessy runner-up. Suspect he has a decent race in him but 5lb wrong here and will need to find improvement for the first-time cheekpieces and tongue-tie combination. Conditions do suit and he can run a nice race.
This is seriously hard to work out, even in the absence of Valtor, who might've been a Grade One horse in a handicap - as was the case when Bristol De Mai won this in the same colours.
Were it to go soft and getting softer, Daklondike and Ballyarthur would come firmly into the reckoning, in that order, along with Otago Trail, but at Thursday's prices and under the forecast conditions the vote goes to WAKANDA.
He was disappointing on the face of it at Wetherby, especially given past exploits in the Rowland Merrick, but that was his second start of the season and first run over fences since the spring. In the past he's needed a couple of spins to put him right and he's only 1lb higher than when winning the Sky Bet Chase around this time last year.
Sue Smith's charge would've been of limited interest were this set to be a typical slog through the mud, but if the ground remains fairly decent he'd have a sound each-way chance for a yard who have won this three times since the turn of the century. Northern yards in general have an excellent record (10/15 since 2000) and he can enhance it.
Other points worthy of mention include the fact that riders claiming weight have won five of the last 10 renewals, which puts course regular Captain Redbeard on the radar, while nine-year-olds have the edge and Red Infantry might be the pick of the four towards the foot of the weights.
2. Red Infantry