With just over one month to go before the Grand National 2015, it's time to start forming some idea of the potential winner. Our contributor, Stephen Boardman gives his thoughts on four of the runners who should provide a good run for your money…
Rocky Creek – 12/1
The Paul Nicholls inmate finished a gallant 5th in the Grand National last year after jumping superbly over the unique Aintree obstacles. He didn't seem to last home that day but he's now a year older and has had a wind operation to help him finish off his races to greater effect. This seems to have worked, judging by his last run when he took apart a decent field at Kempton to win the Bet Bright Chase by 6 lengths.
After that victory his official rating shot up to 163. The rating he will run off in the National will be 154, meaning he is 9lbs better off than he should be in a normal race; this gives him a massive chance.
Young Sam Twiston-Davies is now the number one jockey for the Nicholls team and he has a fantastic record around the Grand National course; steering many a horse home with calmness and assuredness.
Verdict: With him in the saddle and Rocky Creek's natural ability, they should team up to form a formidable force. The other 39 runners should be wary of their threat.
Spring heeled – 20/1
A superb winner of the Kim Muir handicap chase at the Cheltenham Festival last March, Spring Heeled has had the Grand National as him aim ever since then.
Kept off the track until after the weights for the race were revealed in a bid to protect his mark, he finished a satisfactory 4th in the Grade Two Bobbyjo Chase on his seasonal reappearance.
Good ground brings out the best of the Jim Culloty gelding and he'll be hoping the rain stays away from Liverpool in the lead up to this year's renewal of the National. He's likely to still be improving and can be better than his current rating in time.
Verdict: He's one you'll want to have on your side when the starter lets them go on April 11th.
Godsmejudge – 20/1
A thorough stayer. Alan King's charge had a troubled season last year when the stable was under a cloud and he never made it to the start line at Aintree as a result. He did however make it to the Scottish National where he bravely filled the runner up spot, having tasted victory in the race 12 months before.
He'll be running off the same rating in the Grand National as when he was 2nd in the Scottish version last year, so he's by no means handicapped out of things. His record in staying chases is fantastic having only finished outside of the top three on one occasion when tackling a distance of 3m 5f or more.
This coupled with his preference for decent ground and never finishing worse than 3rd in three starts during the month of April all points to him being tailor made for the Grand National.
Verdict: He's a superb staying chaser with Spring form in the book; you'll need him in your team for Aintree.
Al Co – 33/1
He sprung somewhat of a surprise when landing the spoils at Ayr last April to take the Scottish National, with the aforementioned Godsmejudge in second.
Similar comments apply to both horses in the fact that they appreciate the better ground the Spring has to offer and seem to reserve their best performances when the sun in shining.
He's been building his fitness over the Winter on ground he wouldn't enjoy, with one more run likely before Aintree.
Verdict: At his current price he has to rate a fantastic each way selection to go alongside the three more likely winners mentioned above.