Native River (Timeform weight-adjusted rating 185)
The 2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Native River endured a winless campaign last season but he has looked as good as ever this term, putting up a dominant success on his return at Aintree – where he was seemingly sharpened up by the application of blinkers – before making the most of a good opportunity to win a third Denman Chase at Newbury on Saturday. He is still capable of producing top-class form, has already won ultra-competitive handicaps off high marks and, with his key assets being boundless stamina and bold jumping, he looks tailor-made for the Grand National.
Native River stays on brilliantly to claim a third victory in the (Grade 2) Betfair Denman Chase at @NewburyRacing! 👏— Timeform (@Timeform) February 8, 2020
Is he your fancy for the Gold Cup next month? 🏆🏇
Definitly Red (183)
Definitly Red looked the pick of the weights when tackling the National in 2017 but was put out of the race early on through no fault of his own after he was badly hampered at Becher’s Brook and his rider’s saddle slipped. He was by no means disgraced on his only subsequent start over the National fences in the Becher Chase in December, avoiding mistakes and rallying well from the last to finish fourth. He built on that when runner-up in the Peter Marsh Chase, producing his best effort of the campaign, and, while there’s a chance he’s not quite the force of old, he evidently retains plenty of ability and the National appeals as a suitable target.
Lake View Lad (183)
Lake View Lad was pulled up in the National last season but a line can be put through that effort as he was immediately put on the back foot by the standing start. He has yet to score this season but has had a light campaign, including a start over hurdles last time, which suggests the National may have been on the mind of connections all along. He is unexposed over marathon trips but looked a strong stayer when an excellent third in the Ultima last season, and it is well worth having another crack at the National.
Death Duty (182+)
Death Duty has plenty to prove as he made no impact on his return from a two-year layoff in the Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran Park last month, but he was an exciting, Grade 1-winning novice chaser in 2017/18 and has been allotted a fair handicap mark if all his ability remains intact. He also has stamina to prove but could be an interesting wildcard, particularly if showing some zest prior to the National (he is entered at Gowran Park on Saturday and has multiple options at the Cheltenham Festival).
Timeform weight-adjusted ratings:
185 NATIVE RIVER
183 DEFINITLY RED
LAKE VIEW LAD
182+ DEATH DUTY
182 ACAPELLA BOURGEOIS
RAMSES DE TEILLEE
WALK IN THE MILL
180+ ONE FOR ARTHUR
179 BURROWS SAINT
TOP VILLE BEN