Akarus on Track to Be National Treasure; Peter Scudamore's BIG-RACE VIEW

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AKARUS (Uttoxeter, 2.55), who looked like winning the Welsh National until falling four fences out, can gain compensation in the Midlands version this afternoon.

The form of that unlucky run in the Chepstow marathon just after Christmas was boosted when Sir Rembrandt, who finished second there, ran a cracker to chase home Best Mate in Thursday's Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Admittedly, Akarus disappointed when pulled up in the Tote Classic at Warwick a fortnight after his fall but perhaps that came a bit too soon. He has already shown his liking for today's course when finishing less than two lengths second to Intelligent in last year's Midlands National.

Only six of the 17 starters finished that day, not only due to the testing conditions, but also because Uttoxeter is a sharp track that gives little chance for riders to give their mounts a breather.

Top weight Mini Sensation, one of those pulled up a year ago, again faces a stiff task but cannot be ruled out as a former winner of the Welsh National.

Hume Castle, from last year's winning Irish stable, is another to watch.

However, the main danger to Martin Pipe's nine-year-old looks to be Hersov, who wears blinkers for the first time.

Mick Fitzgerald travels to Uttoxeter to ride him and his mount proved he has the stamina for this when second to Bear On Board in a four-mile race at Cheltenham on New Year's Day. …