The Grand National Trial, sponsored by Betfred this year, is a Grade 3 handicap chase run over three miles and four furlongs. As the name suggests, this race is used to test horses’ mettle in preparation for possible entry to the big one at Aintree in April. And with the dual challenges of 22 fences and heavy ground to contend with, any horse who wins this will be more than worthy of a shot at the Grand National itself.

The Betfair Hurdle at Newbury on Saturday looks like it could be a great handicap with some fine horses being tested ahead of the Cheltenham Festival next month. The Grade 3 race is run over a distance of two miles 110 yards, and there are eight hurdles to negotiate. But more importantly, who is going to win?

This Grade 1 National Hunt chase at Leopardstown is run over three miles and incorporates 17 fences. Known usually as the Irish Hennessy – so as not to be confused with the race of the same name at Newbury – it serves as a worthy trial for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, with two horses in the 1990s winning both, Jodami in 1993 and Imperial Call in 1996. So can any of the runners in this field emulate their success?

The Heroes Handicap Hurdle at Sandown Park is run over two miles and six furlongs by horses aged four years and older. On a rare quiet day in terms of big races, this handicap offers a good opportunity to spot some horses to watch for the future. So read on for the latest betting tips for this large-field outing.

The Argento Chase (registered at the Cotswold Steeple Chase) is used as a trial for the Cheltenham Gold Cup which, for many, is the highlight of the Festival in March. Run over around 3 miles 1½ furlongs and with 19 fences to jump, it is a real test for the horses who trainers hope will prove their worth ahead of the Gold Cup. There will also be a real test to get the race on given the recent snow, but at the time of writing the course clerk was very hopeful that particular battle would be won.

The Grade 1 Victor Chandler Chase is often used by trainers to test their charges in advance of the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March. Run over two miles and one furlong, with 13 fences to jump, it certainly tests the mettle of the lower-distance chasers who compete.