Evan Williams believes Prime Venture is at the top of his game ahead of his relatively swift return to action in the Peter Marsh Chase.
The nine-year-old was last seen finishing fourth in a gruelling renewal of the Welsh Grand National at Chepstow and is sent back into battle little over three weeks later at Haydock.
With the trainer’s daughter Isabel Williams claiming 7lb, Prime Venture will carry less than 10st on Merseyside and the Llancarfan handler felt it was too good an opportunity to pass up.
“It wouldn’t be the normal thing to do – running one so quick after a race like the Welsh Grand National – but he does seem to have come out of it bouncing,” said Williams.
“He’s fresh and happy and he’s at the right at end of the weights, so we’re keen to give it a go.
“It might come too quick, but that would be the only negative. I think the ground, trip and track will be fine for him.
“You never really know until you run them, but the way he seems to have come out of Chepstow is almost too good to be true.”
Anthony Honeyball is hoping a long-term plan can come to fruition for his mud-loving mare Midnight Tune.
The daughter of Midnight Legend has won her last two starts at Uttoxeter and Exeter, and steps up in class for the hat-trick bid.
Honeyball said: “We entered in the mares’ hurdle at Ascot on Saturday, just because she ran it two years ago and ran the worst race of her life before winning a Grade Two next time.
“It was sort of unfinished business, but the Peter Marsh has always been the plan.
“Since she’s jumped a fence, we always thought the Tommy Whittle or the Peter Marsh would suit as it would play to all her strengths. It is a big test, but we’re happy to have a go.
“We ran her over two miles last time and I know she was odds on, but the second has come out and won since, so it wouldn’t have done her any harm just sharpening up a little bit.
“We think she’s got a good chance.”
The weights are headed by Brian Ellison’s stable stalwart Definitly Red.
The 11-year-old safely negotiated the Grand National fences when fourth in last month’s Becher Chase at Aintree and a second tilt at the world’s most famous steeplechase is very much on the agenda.
“Last year we tried to keep him fresh for the Gold Cup. We took him up to Kelso for a two-horse race, but it didn’t work out. This year we’re aiming at the National and he’ll run here and might head up to Kelso before Aintree,” said Ellison.
“We’ve taken him to the Cotswold Chase (at Cheltenham) before, but that’s a hard slog and we thought he’d be better off in a handicap.
“He ran well in the Becher, he can carry big weights and he can go through this sort of ground better than if it’s tacky.”
Sandy Thomson has high hopes for Geronimo following his successful reappearance at Newcastle four weeks ago.
The chestnut gelding disappointed in the Scottish Grand National last spring, but got his career back on track with an authoritative display at Gosforth Park.
Thomson said: “He deserves to be there, I think he’ll like the ground and he jumps and stays, so we’ll see how we get on.
“It’s great he’s progressed this far and it’s great we’ve got him back, as it was touch and go for a while after the Scottish National.
“We’ll take our chance and find out how good he is.”
Harry Fry’s Acting Lass, the David Pipe-trained Champers On Ice and Vintage Clouds from Sue Smith’s yard also feature.