The Christmas period is an incredibly exciting time for racing fans. And this season we have a number of big races taking place. Amongst them are two that usually throw up a number of Grand National contenders. The first is the Rowland Meyrick Chase at Wetherby on Boxing Day. The second is the Welsh Grand National at Chepstow a day later.

Across the two contests, we have a number of interesting runners. Including many who will be taking aim at the big race in April, and hoping to run well here to show their credentials.

At a distance of 3m5f, the Welsh Grand National is a fantastic pointer for the Grand National. The current favourite for the race is Elegant Escape, trained by Colin Tizzard. He looks to be the kind of horse that is going to thrive on extreme distances like this one. He is only a six year old, so there is a chance that he doesn’t go for the Grand National this season. But he is certainly a horse that is going to relish extreme trips in the future.

Sue Smith has a number of potential Grand National horses in her yard and Vintage Clouds is one of them. He won nicely over 3m at Haydock on his reappearance this season and showed that he needs to run over further. He has already run over four miles twice in the Scottish Grand National. And his best effort in that race was a third-place finish last season.

He continues to go up the weights but being an eight-year-old, he is only coming in to his prime. The extreme test at Chepstow will suit him. A good run and he may well throw his hat into the Grand National ring. He does have an entry at Wetherby too. However it seems very likely that he goes down to Wales instead.

Up in Yorkshire the headline act in the Rowland Meyrick as far as Grand National challengers go is certainly One For Arthur. He won the 2017 Grand National and when coming back to action in the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree he fell early on. So we haven’t really seen anything from him since winning the big one.

He still looks to be well handicapped based on his National win, and after wowing us once in the Grand National, we would love to see him show us something that makes us believe he can do it again.

The final horse to talk about is Baywing, who has an entry in the Rowland Meyrick. He is one for extreme distances as we saw in the Eider Chase at Newcastle at the beginning of 2018. This race won’t give him the stamina test that he needs, but he is beginning to warm to the task. So watch out for him running on late and picking off beaten horses. He won’t win this but is one to keep an eye on.