Final declarations made today for the £150,000 Betfred Bowl Chase (2.50pm, 3m 1f) and the £200,000 Doom Bar Aintree Hurdle (3.25pm, 2m 4f).
A field of seven is set to go to post in the Betfred Bowl headed by Holywell (Jonjo O'Neill/A P McCoy, 7/4 favourite with Betfred), who won the Grade One Mildmay Novices' Chase over the course and distance at the 2014 Crabbie's Grand National Festival. He ran a fine race to take fourth last time out behind Coneygree in the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup on March 13.
The 2014 Betfred Bowl was won by Siliviniaco Conti (Paul Nicholls/Noel Fehily, 5/2). The nine-year-old has won five Grade One chases in his career, including the last two renewals of Kempton Park's King George VI Chase but was a disappointing 3/1 favourite in this year's Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup when finishing seventh.
Another horse in Thursday's line-up to have won at the 2014 Crabbbie's Grand National Festival is the grey mare Ma Filleule (Nicky, Henderson/Daryl Jacob, 7/2) who last season triumphed over the Grand National fences in the Crabbie's Topham Chase. This season the seven-year-old has not won in four starts but has performed admirably in Grade One company on her last two outings, finishing runner-up in both the Betfair Ascot Chase and the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
Menorah (Philip Hobbs/Richard Johnson, 9/1) won the Grade One Manifesto Novices' Chase at Aintree back in 2012 and finished fifth in the 2014 Betfred Bowl. He was in good form early this season, annexing the Grade Two Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby, but has not been since out seen coming eighth behind Siliviniaco Conti at Kempoton Park on Boxing Day.
Smad Place (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson, 12/1) was Grade One-placed over hurdles at Aintree and ran his best race over fences this season when runner-up to Many Clouds in the Grade Two BetBright Cup at Cheltenham in January, while Ballynagour (David Pipe/Tom Scudamore, 20/1) was in tremendous form last season, including when finishing third in the Grade One Melling Chase at Aintree, but needs to bounce back to form having last been seen out when pulling-up in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury in November.
Completing the field is Vukovar (Warren Greatrex/Gavin Sheehan, 33/1). He has raced since pulling up in the two-mile Grade One Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown Park in December. Previously trained by Harry Fry, he makes his first start on Thursday for Warren Greatrex.
Arctic Fire (Willie Mullins/Ruby Walsh, 2/1 favourite) beat all bar the mighty Vautour in the Stan James Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and heads the market for the Doom Bar Aintree Hurdle.
Also in the field are two victors of the Stan James Champion Hurdle - the 2014 winner Jezki (Jessica Harrington/A P McCoy, 5/2) and the 2012 scorer Rocky On Ruby (Harry Fry/Noel Fehily, 4/1).
Also set to line up are Blue Heron (Dan Skelton/Harry Skelton, 8/1), a Grade Two scorer at Wincanton this season and Volnay de Thaix (Nicky Henderson/David Bass, 10/1), who ran a good race when fifth under a big weight in the Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival.
Vaniteux (Nicky Henderson/Nico de Boinville, 14/1) finished last of the eight runners in this year's Champion Hurdle, while Melodic Rendezvous (Jeremy Scott/Tom Scudamore, 16/1) won the Grade One Tolworth Hurdle in 2013 and reverts to hurdles after a disappointing spell in novice chases.
Doom Bar Aintree Hurdle - Betfred bet: 2 Arctic Fire, 5/2 Jezki, 4 Rock On Ruby, 8 Blue Heron, 10 Volnay de Thaix, 14 Vaniteux, 16 Melodic Rendezvous.