Neil Mulholland’s Mad Max heads 15 runners declared for the Betfred Becher Chase at Aintree on Saturday.
The highly-rated chaser showed some smart form when trained by Nicky Henderson and makes his debut for his new yard over the Grand National fences this weekend.
Heading the ante-post betting is last year’s winner Hello Bud, while champion trainer Paul Nicholls is represented by Niche Market.
Dessie Hughes saddled Black Apalachi (2008) and Vic Venturi (2009) to success in consecutive renewals and has another major contender in Rare Bob.
Joining him on the trip from Ireland is the Noel Meade-trained Another Palm.
Other major hopes include Swing Bill and Nicto De Beauchene as well as Peter Bowen’s pair of Always Waining and Ballyvesey.
Always Waining has won the last two renewals of the Topham Chase over these unique obstacles, while his stablemate was fourth in this race 12 months ago.
“We’ve given Always Waining a couple of runs over hurdles and he’s going back to Aintree absolutely spot-on,” said Bowen.
“I don’t think he’s won over this far before (three and a quarter miles), but I don’t see the trip being a problem.
“We had him entered in the Grand Sefton on Saturday as well, but he’d have had top-weight in that so we thought we’d better go for the Becher. I just hope they don’t get too much rain.
“Ballyvesey ran well in this race last year when he was still a weak five-year-old. He’s a stronger horse now and is from the family of two Grand National winners in West Tip and Royal Athlete.
“It would be nice to think he could be a National horse one day. We’ll see how he goes on Saturday.”