Lung bursting, stamina sapping, a legless marathon. Call it what you like but the Coral Welsh National (2.50pm) is one of the biggest tests, bar the Aintree spectacular, of man and horse during the national hunt season.
Soft ground was predicted all round earlier in the week, but the recent rain has changed the going to heavy, soft in paces and that could be the pivotal factor in deciding the destination of this valuable prize.
Course specialist Rock The Kasbah, who incidentally I think is more of a player in the great Liverpool event, would have been the selection on soft ground, but a bottomless surface may not be his domain and I would much rather have a play at a 16/1 price on the hugely well weighted MILANSBAR.
A 16/1 shot for last year’s event too, his race was basically done and dusted when he tried to take the second fence out by the roots.
A full 11lbs lower in the weights this time around I fancy a clear round will have him pitching at the sharp edge of this race and his light racing weight is a huge bonus in these conditions.
Of his rivals, Ask the Weatherman is mildly progressive and so has to be respected, while you can make solid each-way cases for the likes of Irish raiders Raz de Maree (second last year) and Folsom Blue. Old boy Houblon Des Obeaux (third in the 2016 rendition) should also relish the conditions and could very well hit the frame again.
Of the lighter raced horses you can make a case for Wild West Wind, but he had quite a hard race last time out following a break. Pobbles Bay is very interesting, stepping up in trip with a nice opening race behind him.
The staying handicap hurdle due off at 1.35pm has no less two front runners and four pressers entered so we can expect an end to end gallop and a slow motion finish.
That looks sure to suit light weight DRIFTWOOD HAZE who only just gets into top gear post three miles, but should get a really good tow into this contest.
His amateur jockey gets on well with this son of Nomadic way and the selection runs off his lowest handicap mark for 10 months.
The nine-year-old gets tons of weight from Tobefair (clamped by the handicapper) and the well weighted Three Musketeers, while the hat-trick seeking Dandy Duke is upped in class.
The most fascinating race on the card is the novices limited chase at 3.20pm. Only six go to post, but the whole field have claims.
Flintham will love this deep surface, but I fear there are better handicapped rivals in the field. Prime venture absolutely hacked up at Ffos Las, but the assessor has taken retribution by hiking him 12lbs in the weights so preference is for PURE VISION.
He also won last time out at the West wales track over two and a half miles, but only really hit top gear in the closing stages and this extra half mile looks sure to see him take another big step forward.
The galloping machine that is SUSSEX RANGER is fancied very strongly by the Gary Moore yard to retain his 100% record in the Grade One Future Champions Finale Juvenile Hurdle at 2.10pm.
He absolutely galloped his rivals into the ground when winning under a penalty at Sandown Park last time out and gets a confident vote to dismiss the likes of Famous Milly and Mercenaire from the Nick Williams yard.
Finally, have a second look at THE SWEENEY in the opening maiden hurdle at 12.35pm.
The four-year-old is making steady improvement form wise in three career starts and can step up again on his run over course and distance here at the beginning of the month. He looks the value play against the likes of Victarion, Doctor Haze and Jaunty Flyer.