1pt win Simonsig @2/1, Aintree 14:30

As a seven-year-old, Bobs Worth was good enough to win the Hennessey under a big weight on his seasonal reappearance, but he was a shadow of his Gold Cup-winning self last season and, now aged ten, his best years are surely behind him. However, such has been the impression left by his recent work at home that Nicky Henderson has spoken of his regret of not running him at Wetherby last week, so, at 12/1, it’s a tempting bet with most of the opposition also making their seasonal debuts. The 20f trip is surely too short, though.

The hype for this is around the long-absent Simonsig, once one of National Hunt’s most exciting stars. He may not have been seen for 970 days but he still defends a record of a single defeat in twelve starts. Rather than serious injury, a series of niggling issues have kept him off the track, so there’s every reason to suspect he’s retained his formidable ability.

Purple Bay chased home the sport’s superstar Faugheen on the King George card at Kempton last Christmas, but missed the festivals due to a setback and looks the most natural hurdler in the field. He shoulders a 4lb penalty after victory last season but looks too short for a bet at 7/4.

Commissioned has had a run – pulled up at Kempton in September – and, aged five, has age on his side, but he’ll need to improve against such classy opposition and 6/1 is a shade short with no real form in the book.

Royal Boy once looked useful, having claimed the scalp of Josses Hill – second in the Supreme Novices’ two years back – and Garde La Victoire – an impressive winner last week, but his trainer thinks he’ll need the run after nearly two years off the track. 10/1 would be an excellent price, but it’s difficult to ignore such cautious words.

The excuses are already out for most of them but it’s hardest to imagine Simonsig running a stinker, such was the class he showed when dominating the novice chasing division back in 2013. All the signs from connections are positive and he wouldn’t need to be at his best to win this. He should probably be favourite so 2/1 is worth a punt.

1pt win Simonsig @2/1, Aintree 14:30 (Ladbrokes, money back as a free bet if second)

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