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The key questions to help you find the winner of the novice showdown

Terrefort: second in the JLT but backed to run well by trainer Nicky Henderson
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2.50 Aintree
Betway Mildmay Novices' Chase | Grade 1 | 3m1f | 5yo+ | RUK/ITV

Can Terrefort regain the winning thread?

Terrefort lost his unbeaten record in Britain when bumping into the brilliant Shattered Love in the JLT Novices' Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, but he ran superbly for much of the race and came home clear of the rest of the field.

At just five, that performance gives plenty of hope that the French import is every bit as exciting as suggested by his first two starts in Britain, which culminated with victory in the Grade 1 Scilly Isles at Sandown in February.

Henderson, who won this last year with subsequent Gold Cup second Might Bite, said: "The step up to three miles should suit him well and he ran very well at the festival. He's a horse I like and the track and conditions should play to his strengths."

Will Escape follow in River's footsteps?

Colin Tizzard, who won this two years ago with Native River, this year's sensational Gold Cup winner, saddles RSA Chase third Elegant Escape in pursuit of another victory in the contest.

Elegant Escape: bids to follow in the footsteps of Native River

A progressive chaser, Elegant Escape plugged on up the hill at Cheltenham to run into the places – a good result under the circumstances because, having raced prominently, he had looked outpaced for much of the straight.

Assistant trainer Joe Tizzard said: "He ran well in the RSA. He's come out of Cheltenham really well and we expect him to run a big race."

Will Mia's Storm handle the ground?

Mia's Storm was seeking a five-timer when falling at Kempton on Boxing Day in the Kauto Star Novices' Chase, a race won by the reopposing Black Corton.

Trainer Alan King has attributed that to soft ground, which does not bode particularly well for an Aintree appearance on unseasonably testing conditions.

Mia's Storm: ground a worry again

"She's very well. She's ready to roll and the form of her Listed win at Market Rasen is rock-solid," King wrote in his Weekender column.

"I'm very concerned about the ground. She simply doesn't operate on the soft – she showed that at Kempton on Boxing Day."


What the rest say

Paul Nicholls, trainer of Black Corton
He's obviously had a long season and it's hard to know if he'll perform to his best. I've been a bit easier on him since Cheltenham, but he looks great, his weight is good, and everything looks right. If he runs to his best he should have a chance.

Noel Meade, trainer of Snow Falcon
He's in good form and, after failing to complete in the Irish National, it was a case of this race or waiting for Punchestown. He ran probably his best race over hurdles at this meeting last year so we decided to bring him back.


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He's a horse I like and the track and conditions should play to his strengths
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