WHILE THE hill is a big concern for a horse that doesn't like to get into a battle, it was impossible not to be impressed by TOUBAB'S recent Sandown stroll and, immediately after the race, Paul Nicholls pencilled in the Grand Annual as his next intended target. Not the Arkle, not the Jewson, both of which he might have had a chance in, and it may just be that Nicholls thinks Toubab is well-handicapped off a mark of 143.
Provided French Opera stays in the race, he will have to carry just 10-7. His jumping is quick and fluent and will allow him to creep into the contest under Ruby Walsh. He chased home Lancetto at Cheltenham already this season and would have won with a more patient ride.
If you stopped the tape of last year's Grand Annual coming down the hill there was only one winner and that was Tanks For That who appeared to be hard on the bridle under Barry Geraghty. But he didn't get home and was swallowed up in the home straight. He seems a more relaxed horse this year and won at the Open meeting last November so he could be a major threat to Toubab if he settles early on.
Selection: TOUBAB Danger: Tanks For That