LOCAL John Smith's Grand National hopes are in the final stages of their big race preparation with the marathon event now just over one week away.
Last year's winner Amberleigh House is one of the market leaders at around 10-1 in the ante-post market.
Partnered by Graham Lee, House galloped at Haydock Park last Sunday morning and jumped a couple of fences in the home straight. Trainer Ginger McCain said: 'He's a pro. He's grand. That's near enough done it, that was a serious piece of work and he stood off at his fences.'
Lee added: 'He's in great form. I was just a passenger, as always!'
Richard Ford trains Forest Gunner at Little Budworth, currently available at 14-1. Earlier this week, Ford said: 'So far, so good. I'm happy enough but I'll keep his entry in the Topham until nearer the time.'
Gunner's partner Carrie tested her own race fitness at Carlisle last Saturday and her view of a lady jockey winning the National is: 'It's never been done, but anything's possible.'
Before the Aintree fixture grabs all the headlines, Bangor-on-Dee stages a Farmers' Day tomorrow afternoon when the feature race is the extended two-and-a-half-mile Weatherbys Insurance Handicap Chase.
Trainers Paul Nicholls and Philip Hobbs have entered more than one horse for the event and their declared runners should feature in the outcome. Noise-tine looks value for a place.
Sword Lady is a seven-length course and distance winner and holds an entry for the Tommy Shone Handicap Hurdle.
Go For Bust and After Me Boys, who finished second and third to Sword Lady at the last Bangor-on-Dee meeting when both gave weight to the winner, are to meet again. In good form, the Lady could record her third successive win as she steps up in class.
Tommy's Darts also sponsor the Beginners' Chase and the Handicap Chase. Le Jaguar is a consistent type and has the proven stamina to stay this three-mile trip. The gelding was second at Chepstow last month and may go one closer here with Tom Fruit looking the next best.
The winner of the Handicap Chase may travel from York-shire as Tim Easterby's Edmo Heights and Kids Inheritance from Malcolm Jefferson's yard are both shortlisted for this two-mile one-and-a-half-furlong contest.
Kids Inheritance was second at Catterick in a similar event four weeks ago and is preferred to go one closer today.
Racing begins at 2.20pm with the Farmers' Day Mares' Only Claiming Hurdle. Tizi Ouzou looks the form horse. She won a seller easily at Taunton last month by five lengths and should have the ability to go close again today.
The card concludes at 5.35pm with the Brand New Combine Harvester Maiden National Hunt Flat Race. In this type of race, the betting market frequently provides an accurate guide to the prospects of horses making a racecourse debut.
Eaton Hall, near Chester, is the venue for the Flint & Denbigh Hunt point-to-point meeting on Sunday. A total of 122 horses have been entered and action begins at 1.30pm. Admission to the fixture is £20 per vehicle.