Top commentator Simon Holt is backing Final Nudge to win Wednesday's Coral Welsh National at Chepstow.
After Native River landed last year's Coral Welsh Grand National under top weight, his subsequent third in the Gold Cup proved that he had been a Grade One horse running in a handicap.
No similar candidate seems to exist in this year's line-up at Chepstow on Wednesday but FINAL NUDGE could be a horse eminently well suited to the gruelling task.
A decent staying novice hurdler, David Dennis' gelding is well suited by deep ground and made a highly-satisfactory reappearance in the Badger Ales Chase at Wincanton last month when going under by a head to the possibly well-handicapped Present Man.
The three miles and a furlong on a flat track that day might not have been ideal for Final Nudge who, last March, was probably travelling a bit better than any of his rivals when falling at the fourth last in the Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter, a race fought out by Chase The Spud (now 13lb worse off) and MYSTEREE (same terms).
At the weights Mysteree, pulled out of a race at Cheltenham recently, could again be the one to beat especially as Michael Scudamore's dour stayer (earlier successful in the Eider at Newcastle) has won first time out for the past three seasons and looks worth a saver.
Meanwhile, Chase The Spud reappeared to win at Haydock (up 9lb) from subsequent scorer Robinsfirth, and the form of Newcastle's Rehearsal Chase is represented by Beware The Bear (carrying a 4lb penalty) and Bishops Road. The former looks a progressive stayer while the latter (well beaten in this last year) can run off the same mark as when routing his rivals at Haydock in February 2016.
Top weight Vicente, second to Perfect Candidate at Cheltenham on his reappearance, is a perfect type for Nationals as his back-to-back victories in the Scottish version prove, though he could finish only sixth in this softer-ground test 12 months ago, finishing some way behind the runner-up Raz De Maree and third-placed Houblon Des Obeaux.
Raz De Maree runs off a similar mark this time and a recent run over hurdles at Southwell looked like good preparation for a repeat attempt with nothing of Native River's capabilities in the line-up. Although now 12 years old and pint-sized, Gavin Cromwell's out-and-out stayer is another who cannot be dismissed.
Rock The Kasbah, a Chepstow specialist but unproven over this sort of distance, and recent Trial winner Wild West Wind (carries a 4lb penalty) should also be considered in a competitive renewal.
Earlier on the card, ON THE ROAD looks well handicapped in the Coral Bet 5 Get 20 Handicap Hurdle.
After a successful chasing campaign last season, the Evan Williams-trained seven-year-old reverted to hurdles on his reappearance, chasing home Sykes at Ffos Las, and the winner has since run well at Cheltenham.
Off a 7lb lower mark than his current chase rating and with the useful Mitch Bastyan taking off another 5lb, On The Road looks the pick of the weights.
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Posted at 1645 GMT on 26/12/17.