Between them Vieux Lion Rouge, Definitly Red and Blaklion are set to jostle for favouritism right until the tapes go up on Saturday for the Grand National.
The trio all have their merits and, as the race creeps ever closer, it appears connections of all three are brimming with confidence.
Jockeys Tom Scudamore and Noel Fehily will ride Vieux Lion Rouge and Blaklion respectively while Definitly Red’s trainer Brian Ellison is exuding confidence in his charge.
It is the David Pipe-trained Vieux Lion Rouge that has headed the market for some time and he is now 10/1. Scudamore fully expects that the Becher Chase winner will be getting strong the longer the race goes on.
“In the Becher Chase, he came over the last in third, looking beat, and stayed every yard of that [three and a quarter miles],” said the jockey.
“Turning into the straight at Haydock [Grand National Trial] there were two going better than him. By the time they got to the line, over three and a half miles in very harsh conditions, he was going further away.
“He’s in very good nick. Everyone is very happy with him.”
Vieux Lion Rouge got the measure of Blaklion at Haydock last time out but Fehily, winner of the Champion Hurdle and the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham last month, vows that he wouldn’t trade places with any jockey in Saturday’s race.
“It’s the Grand National, so you can’t exactly be over-confident, but I wouldn’t swap Blaklion for anything. He’s got a nice bit of form and a bit of class about him, and I’m hoping for a big run,” he told the Racing Post.
Fehily cites the record of trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies, who has twice saddled the Grand National winner before, as a major plus-point for 12/1 chance Blaklion going into the race.
Definitly Red meanwhile has won three of his five starts this season and delivered a resounding defeat to last year’s National runner-up The Last Samuri at Doncaster in his final prep race.
His trainer feels that with even luck, the eight-year-old is destined for a major say in the Aintree marathon.
“When he won the Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster, he went on four out and he wasn’t stopping,” said Ellison.
“The ground will help him, good ground will help him.
“He’s been awesome over the National-style fences. If ever you’ve seen a horse over a fence, he was good.
“If he gets the luck, he’s got a great chance.”
Definitly Red is currently 10/1 alongside Vieux Lion Rouge at the head of the market but, with confidence apparently soaring behind the market leaders, it could be an intriguing battle between now and post-time to see which horse is sent off favourite for the Grand National.
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