The Cheltenham Festival 2023. Oh what a grand week its was.
In a glorious 45-minute period on Day 1, Constitution Hill confirmed his utter dominance before Honeysuckle then completed an emotional swansong.
Galopin Des Champs was then the cherry on a rather tasty cake in the main event, finally proving his class with Gold Cup glory.
So, as the turf settles on another epic trip to Gloucestershire, eyes now glance – on the National Hunt calendar at least – north to Merseyside.
With the Randox Grand National less than a month off, as it stands, 73 names are currently pencilled for a date on April 15 in Liverpool.
But who will make the grade for the final 40?
For many of Cheltenham’s protagonists, last week would have been crucial prep for the trip to Aintree so what can we take from this year’s Festival?
Corach Rambler catapults into box seat
On a week of champions returning to defend their respective crowns, it was almost an instant replay for Corach Rambler.
Staging another late surge to pip Fastorslow in the Ultima, Lucinda Russell’s 9yo retained by a neck.
Having seen his odds slashed for the Grand National, Corach Rambler is now the 7/1 favourite with BoyleSports.
Though the son of former Jersey Stakes winner, Jeremy, has only one prior trip to Aintree, with it came victory in the 2021 Jewson Handicap.
His staying ability proven, the chief concern over 4m2f though, is that the National distance is over a mile further than any of his trips to date
That, and his now likely handicap.
Noble Yeats a stayer
Staying the trip is something Noble Yeats has not only passed but done so with flying colours.
Last year’s sensational National winner may have been unable to achieve a rare Gold Cup double, but Emmet Mullins remains a force next month.
An 8/1 SP at the off before last Friday’s contest, the now 8yo finished well to take fourth.
Showing the same pure racing pedigree that saw him overcome Any Second Now last spring, Noble Yeats is very much in the shake-up to defend.
Only the mighty Tiger Roll has won back-to-back Nationals since the 1970s, but 10/1 with William Hill looks early value.
National may Work for Delta
Looking at the last of the three frontrunners for next month, Delta Work boosted his Aintree hopes in again winning the Glenfarclas.
The 10yo of Gordon Elliott could now be at the perfect age for a race of this magnitude, having come third last time out.
Now amongst the best around for staying, five of Delta Work’s age have entered the winner’s circle at Aintree.
Make no mistake, the French gelding could follow in the steps of Neptune Collonges and more recently, Pineau De Re at 12/1 with 888sport.
Could Envoi Allen capture greatness?
What of Envoi Allen? Could the Cheveley Park 9yo now carry a stunning win from the Ryanair into a debut Grand National outing?
Finishing ahead of Shishkin, Rachael Blackmore picked up the second of her two big wins of the week.
So could we now see a reunion in a race she made history with on Minella Times two years ago?
Favouring the 2m4f trip, plans could yet be thwarted into 4m territory but Henry De Bromhead may yet be persuaded to ride the wave of emotion.
A current 33/1 shot with PariMatch, Envoi Allen is yet capable of another thrilling marquee ride.
Hewick may turn heads
Finally, of the relative unknowns who impressed at Cheltenham, Hewick was a real eyebrow-raiser.
Bolting up in the Gold Cup with Jordan Gainford, the Irish gelding went an impressive trip.
Indeed, positioned second with two to jump, had it not been for a heavy fall at the penultimate hurdle, Hewick was on course to place at the very least.
Having come through a nasty landing unscathed, it could well worth be keeping and eye on his training over the coming weeks.
Perhaps a little too green for the ultimate test of endurance, that factor could yet prompt TJ McDonald to reconsider such a tough entry.
With that said however, Hewick is already a National winner; taking the US equivalent at Far Hills last October.
That was a far shorter trip over 2m5f but nevertheless, it would be no surprise if given another lower weight, Hewick were to figure at a big price.