One of the key components in identifying the likely winner of this prestigious staying prize is looking towards those who’ve displayed a distinct affinity with this stiff, galloping track in the past, and the two that spring to mind when analysing this year’s crop are COGRY (best price 9/1) and MOUNTAINOUS (best price 10/1).
The former hails from a yard that has a rich tradition in this event with the likes of Earth Summit and Bindaree claiming victory in the 3m 5f marathon before going on to Aintree glory, and judged by the way the son of King’s Theatre has been campaigned, it’s clear connections recognised this fella to having similar traits to those two big stable stars of the yesteryear. Nigel Twiston-Davies’ inmate gave signal that he might be a likely type for this post-Christmas slog when landing a novice chase on the this same card last year and in his five subsequent starts, he’s done nothing but add weight to that theory. Sure to be all the better for his latest effort when a staying-on fourth in an ultra-competitive handicap chase at Cheltenham’s Paddy Power fixture, that form alone gives him excellent claims of being bang in the mix with a clear round.
Mountainous provided one of two Welsh Nationals for Richard Lee and given how well daughter Kerry has taken over the reins at the Byton base, there’s every chance that the 11-year-old veteran can keep the family tradition flying high. The son of Milan warmed up nicely for another tilt at a race he took two years ago with a positive display in a keenly-contested Sandown handicap last time and having dropped down to a mark 5lb lower than his last winning mark, a nice low weight and heavy ground all point towards him playing a major role in the outcome.