It's more than five years since Fair Along last won over fences but there's no question that Philip Hobbs' stayer is well handicapped on his C&D in the Hennessy over C&D in November. He has to go on the short-list along with lightly-weighted stablemate Marufo, who was third at Sandown last month. Niche Market was fifth in last year's Grand National and runner-up to West End Rocker, over the National fences again, at Aintree in November while Blazing Bailey and Dom D'Orgeval have a touch of class. Hello Bud is holding his form well considering his age but Mark The Book was pulled out of a similar race at Doncaster 10 days ago, where Wogan and Mumbles Head went on to finish fifth and seventh respectively, and needs softer ground. OUZBECK, on the other hand, thrives on a faster surface and this is his time of year. Well handicapped, he could be a bit of value if fighting fit following a break.
Blazing Bailey 15-2 (10-13) Held up towards rear, pushed along approaching 12th, behind 18th, 10th of 13, 25l behind Hey Big Spender (11-12) at Warwick 3m 5f hcp chs G3 (1) gs in Jan.
Niche Market (IRE) 9-1 (11-5) Mid-division on outside, mistake 1st, left 5th 13th (bechers brook), chased winner 3 out, no impression last, weakened flat, 2nd of 14, 22l behind West End Rocker (10-10) at Aintree 3m 2f lstd hcp chs (1) hvy in Dec.
Ouzbeck (FR) 18-1 (11-12) Mid-division, ridden before 4 out, outpaced before next, stayed on again from 2 out, went 4th towards finish, 4th of 13, 7l behind Ethiopia (9-7) at Chepstow 3m hcp chs 0-150 (2) gd in Oct.
Fair Along (GER) 6-1 (11-2) Led, pecked 4 out, driven and headed 2 out, no extra before last, 4th of 6, 12l behind Shakalakaboomboom (11-0) at Cheltenham 3m 1f Grade 3 hcp chs (4yo+) (1) gd in Dec.
Hello Bud (IRE) 33-1 (10-3) Prominent, led approaching 3rd, hit 4 out, headed 2 out, no extra flat, 5th of 13, 7l behind Hey Big Spender (11-12) at Warwick 3m 5f hcp chs G3 (1) gs in Jan.
Dom d'Orgeval (FR) 15-2 (10-11) Chased leaders, ridden and weakened from 2 out, 6th of 17, 40l behind Knighton Combe (10-6) at Uttoxeter 3m 4f lstd hcp chs (1) gd in Jun.
Mark The Book (IRE) 11-2 (11-11) Made all, not fluent 8th, pecked 5 out, stayed on well to draw clear from 3 out, idled flat, won at Chepstow 3m hcp chs 0-115 (4) hvy in Jan beating Rockabilly (11-9) by 5l, 7 ran.
Mumbles Head (IRE) 8-1 (11-0) Held up, under pressure 12th, soon beaten, 7th of 8, well behind Faasel (11-8) at Doncaster 3m hcp chs 0-145 (2) gd in Feb.
Marufo (IRE) 16-1 (10-9) Mid-division, mistake 6th, headway and in touch 12th, chased leading pair after 19th, outpaced after 2 out, kept on under pressure flat, 3rd of 13, 6l behind Midnight Appeal (11-5) at Sandown 3m hcp chs 0-135 (3) gd in Feb.
Wogan 6-1 (10-4) Led, pressed from 11th, headed before 4 out, rallied next, weakened 2 out, 5th of 8, 16l behind Faasel (11-8) at Doncaster 3m hcp chs 0-145 (2) gd in Feb.