The end of season chasing finale at Sandown on Saturday is a mix of stayers that have seen better days; horses coming here as an after thought after failing to deliver the goods in the Grand National and other major events; or those who have had more than half an eye on this event all season
And it is the last named category that you need to seek out when trying to determine the likely winner of this lung bursting marathon.
Fairoak Lad is certainly a horse we would want to have on my side in the entry. A young, unexposed chaser beginning to flourish over the larger obstacles from the in form Phillip Hobbs yard and sure to relish the likely fast ground.
Last time out, the seven-year-old jumped superbly when he defied a mark of 129 to beat Gullible Gordon by two-and-a-quarter-lengths at Wincanton.
At first hand, a 9lbs penalty looks a bit harsh for beating a horse that has hardly lived up to its early season promise, but here is a youngster that is physically a different animal to the one that kicked off the campaign in an ordinary novice chase at Worcester. Should he take his place in the Esher line-up we strongly suspect he will trade much lower than the current price on Betfair of 14.5.
Despite all his problems this season Air Force One has to come into the reckoning in a race which has little strength in depth.
His form figures may not inspire but he looked like landing the money last time out in the Guinness Chase at Down Royal before making a hash of the fifth last.
Set to race off a mark of 146, a reproduction of his runs in the King George or Hennessy of '08 would make him the blot on the handicap for this event and although a price of 17.0 is giving nothing away, the conditions of the track and race are tailor made for him.
The ante-post favourite is Just Amazing from the all-conquering Nicholls yard. He hacked up at Cheltenham last time out in what looked a weak race, but receives no penalty for that win. Available at around 9.0 he looks a solid marker leader with further improvement in the locker.
The Package (14.0) didn't take to Aintree and now has to run off his re-assessed mark of 147 and we can afford more respect to Boychuk, a staying on fourth at Cheltenham last time out and available at 38.0 in the Betfair Market and former winner Lacdoudal (third off 140 last year and now 4lbs lower) available at 17.5.