As last year’s hero Many Clouds looks almost certain to run barring accidents, for once the weights for the world’s greatest steeplechase will remain the same granted his participation, and that makes life a little easier for punters when it comes to sifting through the 126-strong entry and drawing up a shortlist.

Although the Irish raiders have enjoyed plenty of success over the years, you’ve got to go back to Numbersixvalverde in 2006 to find the last winner from the Emerald Isle, but the one thing Martin Brassil’s charge had in common with several Gaelic entries from this season’s list, is crucial form in the Irish National the year before. Of those that ran in last year’s Fairyhouse marathon, runner-up RULE THE WORLD makes the most appeal of developing into a likely Aintree type and his form so far this campaign has done nothing to deter that viewpoint.

Mouse Morris’ inmate would have gone very close to securing the big pot he thoroughly deserves but for slipping up approaching the last in the Galway Plate and series of gallant but near misses subsequently in some of the very best staying chases on home soil suggest he will surely land a big one when everything drops just right. Third in the Kerry National at Listowel back in September was followed up with another two knocking good efforts against the very best novices around, and although he uncharacteristically missed the frame last time out in the Thyestes Chase at Gowran, finishing a valiant fifth was hardly a step in the wrong direction.

Entered in three races at the festival – varying from 2m 4f to 4m – it will be interesting to see what route connections go down as that might give an indication as to whether they decide to have a crack at the Crabbie’s National or go pot-hunting at a slightly more benign level. Either way, the son of Sulamani would be a very intriguing runner should he be given the green light as he has plenty of attributes normally associated with previous winners of this famous race.

One horse that Rule The World did get a proper spanking off last season was GALLANT OSCAR and he would also come right into the argument if he could return to the sort of form he exhibited that day at the Punchestown Festival. Tony Martin’s charge couldn’t have been any more impressive than he was that afternoon, winning with a ton in hand, and that performance was off the back of a sound display when third in the big 3m handicap chase behind The Druid’s Nephew at the Cheltenham Festival.

This season, however, the son of Oscar has been a little bit more difficult to fathom. A fall at the second last in the Paddy Power Chase – albeit still in contention at the time – and modest run in a hurdle at the same track last time out suggest he’s nowhere near his best, and with no future engagements to give punters a clue of his current wellbeing, he clearly remains a tough one to assess. He is, however, too good a horse to right off just yet and if he can be nurtured back to full health, the 10-year-old would look a big price at 33/1.
Rule The World - 0.5pt e/w @ 50/1Won 32.25pt
Gallant Oscar - 0.5pt e/w @ 33/1Lost -1pt