Young gun can Master Grand National test
The Young Master can realise a long-term plan for the Waley-Cohen family and trainer Neil Mulholland by winning the Randox Health Grand National at Aintree.
When Robert Waley-Cohen bought into the eight-year-old, the Aintree spectacular was already in his mind and that of his son, Sam, who will once again be in the plate to tackle the world's most famous steeplechase.
Mulholland persuaded the team to step back from a National challenge last year and the decision paid dividends as The Young Master won the Bet365 Gold Cup, but things have not gone quite so smoothly this term.
Admittedly, he made an inauspicious start over the National obstacles when falling two fences from home in the Becher Chase on his reappearance, while he cut little ice when put back over hurdles at Cheltenham in the Cleeve.
However, The Young Master looked much more like his old self when claiming a staying-on sixth in the Ultima Handicap Chase at last month's Cheltenham Festival.
He got caught for a bit of pace, but kept on all the way up the hill to suggest that with a canny ride, this four-and-quarter-mile trip should be well within his compass.
The Young Master will certainly get every assistance from the saddle as Waley-Cohen jnr is a very sharp operator when it comes to this sort of test and he should be in there battling when they get to the famous elbow.
He has been only lightly raced this season and Mulholland will surely have him primed to the second for his big day.
Vieux Lion Rouge could well prove the closest challenger to The Young Master as he has been there and done it over the National fences and impressed when winning a trial event at Haydock in February.
Just A Par chased home The Young Master at Sandown and can improve on last year's 15th place after turning in a really nice prep at Newbury, making him a couple of pounds well in here.
Cause Of Causes should also be thereabouts following his virtuoso performance over the cross-country course at Cheltenham and his eighth place in the National back in 2015.
Away from the National, Charbel can prove the star of the undercard by landing the Doom Bar Maghull Novices' Chase.
He was leading the Arkle when crashing out at the second-last fence and while it might be stretching it to suggest he would have beaten Altior, he was giving him a real race until it came to a premature end.
The Ryanair Stayers' Liverpool Hurdle looks a potentially muddling event so you could perhaps build up your National stake pot a bit by taking a punt on Aux Ptits Soins.
He moved back to hurdles after proving a bit of a damp squib over fences and his second to Zarkandar at Haydock showed some promise.
He remains lightly raced and unexposed and while he has plenty to find with a couple of these, we certainly do not appear to have seen the limit of his abilities yet.
Le Breuil bypassed Cheltenham and Ben Pauling's patience can pay dividends in the Betway Mersey Novices' Hurdle.
Nap: The Young Master
Treble: Aux Ptits Soins
Yankee: Le Breuil