This is likely to turn into a real slog and it may be too much for Carruthers and Master Overseer, neither of which have been seen since pulling up in the Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter last March. Hey Big Spender won this in 2012, with recent Exeter scorer Major Malarkey fourth, and is 10lb lower. He must have a chance if fully recovered from his exertions in the Welsh National but stamina could be a problem for Noble Legend and Solix. Safran De Cotte quickly lost interest at Haydock last time and Any Currency's recent form has been over the cross-country fences, though he looked unlucky last time and does stay well. Vesper Belle was fancied for the Becher Chase at Aintree last month but got no further than the first fence. It remains to be seen if that has left a mark while the handicapper has done novice Shotgun Paddy no favours. BOYFROMNOWHERE won the Southern National with a bit in hand at Fontwell in November. The ground was very testing that day but he jumped really well and, only 4lb higher now, can follow up in this higher grade. Loch Ba could figure if he stays but this may be too tough for Kelso scorer Royale Knight from 3lb out of the handicap.
Carruthers 9-1 (11-5) Led until 3rd, remained prominent, mistake 17th, hard driven 5 out, weakened before next, pulled up before 2 out, in a race won by Big Occasion (9-7) at Uttoxeter 4m 1f lstd hcp chs (1) hvy in Mar, 11 ran.
Hey Big Spender (IRE) 20-1 (10-7) Mid-division, mistake 1st, towards rear when hit 10th, well behind when pulled up after 6 out, in a race won by Mountainous (10-0) at Chepstow 3m 5f Grade 3 hcp chs (4yo+) (1) hvy in Dec, 20 ran.
Master Overseer (IRE) 12-1 (11-7) Chased leaders, driven and weakened 14th, behind when pulled up before 4 out, in a race won by Big Occasion (9-7) at Uttoxeter 4m 1f lstd hcp chs (1) hvy in Mar, 11 ran.
Shotgun Paddy (IRE) 6-4 (11-5) Led, driven and 1 length advantage when hit 2 out, soon ridden, headed flat, not pace of winner final 100 yards, 2nd of 3, 2 3/4l behind Black Thunder (11-8) at Lingfield 3m nov chs Grade 2 (1) sft in Dec.
Same Difference (IRE) 33-1 (11-1) Held up towards rear, in mid-division 11th, blundered 15th, no progress after, 10th of 21, 24l behind Triolo D'Alene (11-1) at Newbury 3m 2f Grade 3 hcp chs (4yo+) (1) gd in Nov.
Vesper Bell (IRE) 9-1 (10-13) Fell 1st, in a race won by Chance Du Roy (10-6) at Aintree 3m 2f hcp chs G3 (1) sft in Dec, 22 ran.
Victors Serenade (IRE) 3-1fav (11-9) Took keen hold, jumped left, tracked leaders, went 2nd 4th, not fluent 8th, headed 3 out, soon beaten, went 2nd close home, no chance with winner, 2nd of 6, 19l behind Pension Plan (11-10) at Ffos Las 3m hcp hdl 0-135 (3) hvy in Nov.
Noble Legend 8-1 (11-8) Tracked leaders, headway 4 out, led last, stayed on well, won at Wetherby 2m 4f hcp chs 0-135 (3) sft in Dec beating Tahiti Pearl (11-6) by 3 1/2l, 9 ran.
Any Currency (IRE) 9-2 (10-12) In touch, ridden 19th, outpaced 4 out, rallied approaching last, stayed on, went 2nd towards finish, stayed on, 2nd of 13, 1/2l behind Sire Collonges (11-10) at Cheltenham 3m 7f hcp chs (2) gd in Dec.
Loch Ba (IRE) 8-1 (11-4) Prominent, led 3rd, headed 6th, beaten when blundered 2 out, rallied after last to go 2nd close home, no chance with winner, 2nd of 12, 11l behind Night Alliance (11-0) at Haydock 3m hcp chs 0-145 (2) sft in Dec.
Solix (FR) 20-1 (11-12) Held up in rear, headway 4 out, soon no impression, 5th of 12, 28l behind Night Alliance (11-0) at Haydock 3m hcp chs 0-145 (2) sft in Dec.
Boyfromnowhere (IRE) 9-2 (10-12) Made most, ridden after last, kept on well towards finish, won at Fontwell 3m 4f hcp chs 0-135 (3) hvy in Nov beating Adrenalin Flight (10-5) by 1 3/4l, 10 ran.
Emperor's Choice (IRE) 10-1 (11-11) Mid-division, headway halfway, soon chasing leaders, weakened before 11th, pulled up 4 out, in a race won by Night Alliance (11-0) at Haydock 3m hcp chs 0-145 (2) sft in Dec, 12 ran.
Safran De Cotte (FR) 11-2fav (11-5) Chased leaders, lost place 10th, soon behind, pulled up 2 out, in a race won by Night Alliance (11-0) at Haydock 3m hcp chs 0-145 (2) sft in Dec, 12 ran.
Major Malarkey (IRE) 10-1 (11-5) Held up mid-division, headway before 7th to chase leaders, led before 4 out, headed 2 out, regained lead run-in, kept on gamely, won at Exeter 4m hcp chs 0-125 (3) gd in Dec beating Whistling Senator (11-4) by 1 1/4l, 12 ran.
Royale Knight 6-1 (10-3) Tracked leaders, pressed leader 20th, led 2 out, ridden out, won at Kelso 4m hcp chs 0-145 (2) gs in Dec beating Scotswell (10-12) by 6l, 9 ran.