Since Aintree adjusted some of their fences on the Grand National course in 2012 there has been a strong form line coming through from horses that have performed well in the Scottish version at Ayr.
The Sue Smith trained Aurora’s Encore was a gallant runner-up in Scotland in 2012, then went on to take the Aintree spectacular the following season.
Sandy Thomson trains a horse of that calibre in Seeyouatmidnight. The ten-year-old was a close third to Vicente in the 2016 Scottish National before things began to go slightly awry with the gelding.
The Grade Two winner has been off the track through injury since last March, when he finished second over hurdles at Kelso.
He is now nearing a return to action and he will be aimed at this year’s Aintree Grand National according to Thomson.
Seeyouatmidnight had been struggling with a suspensory ligament problem but is now fully recovered. He has also undergone a wind operation and is expected to return in February with an entry at Thomson’s favoured track of Kelso.
Thomson said this week: "He's in good order, but whether we get a run into him in mid-, or at the end of, February will depend on the weather.
"The plan could be to run him in the Ivan Straker Chase (Kelso, February 15) and then go for the National. It's great to have him back."
Considered not so long ago as the brightest hope on jump racing's Northern and Scottish circuit, Seeyouatmidnight is not the craziest 50/1 ante-post bet you will see this side of April.
Herefordshire trainer Kerry Lee has pencilled in the Grand National Trial at Haydock for her veteran chaser Alfie Spinner, with a decision pending on his participation in the National itself.
The 13-year-old proved he was no back number when finishing second in the Welsh Grand National behind another 13-year-old in Raz De Maree.
Lee said: "I was absolutely thrilled with Alfie Spinner. He came out of the race bouncing, as good as ever. He is definitely 13 years young and not old.
"He is in super order and I imagine we will look at the Grand National Trial at Haydock as the next target.
"It is over three and a half miles and the ground up there has been heavy all season. I can't think that will be changing much over the next few weeks
"I was hugely proud of him and Richard Patrick (conditional jockey) at Chepstow, as they both really showed themselves up well that day.
"Alfie Spinner is a massive ambassador for National Hunt racing. He is a 13-year-old racing with so much zest and enthusiasm, long may it continue."
Alfie Spinner is currently priced up at 100/1 for the Aintree Grand National on April 14th.
Aye Aye, Captain
Captain Redbeard could be looking at a trip to Aintree Racecourse for the Grand National after a decent enough showing in the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock Park at the weekend.
Stuart Coltherd's nine-year-old won the Tommy Whittle Chase at Haydock last month then returned to play second fiddle to The Dutchman in heavy conditions in the Peter Marsh Chase.
Prior to Saturday’s race Coltherd said: “The plan is to run, he enjoyed the conditions last time and it’s only two furlongs further.
“I’m not actually sure why I ran him last time (in the Tommy Whittle) as I wasn’t sure he’d enjoy three miles and heavy ground, but he got it (the trip) well.
“He’s up to 144 now which would almost guarantee him a run in the National.
“He was in the process of running a good race in the Grand Sefton but he got hampered by a faller and then when he needed to meet the next one right, he met it wrong and it was race over.
“Depending on how he gets on this weekend, he’ll more than likely get a National entry.”
Captain Redbeard still remains a 100/1 chance for the National after his Saturday exertions.
Missed Approach who recently finished third in the Classic Chase at Warwick behind Milansbar will be heading to Musselburgh next for the Edinburgh National Handicap Chase on February 3rd.
His trainer Warren Greatrex said: "I think he ran well the other day. He did everything right, he just hit a flat spot with a mile to go but he did stay on well considering he was fifth turning in.
"Nothing was going to beat the winner (Milansbar) as it just seemed like the blinkers brought out a lot of improvement.
"I think he is a Grand National-type of horse, but he needs to go up in the weights. I am now going to look at the Edinburgh National.
"If he wins that it should see him into the National weights. If he doesn't do it, then he doesn't deserve to have a crack at Aintree this year.
"There are plenty of other races around that could be of interest and there is always next year's National.
"If he improves for Warwick, then he should run very well at Musselburgh."
The eight-year-old is currently a 66/1 interest for the Merseyside marathon.
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*