A rising star, a quality performer, a grand campaigner and a black type winner-turned-jumper could come together once again in one of the most exciting climax races that Victorian jumps racing has ever seen.

The Grand National Hurdle is still a fortnight away but already the interest and excitement is building towards the $200,000 feature over 3900-metres.

The Kathryn Durden-trained Wells showed that he is a force to contend with after posting a strong victory in yesterday’s $100,000 Kevin Lafferty Hurdle (3600m) at Warrnambool.

Darren Weir’s Gotta Take Care completed a double in the Brendan Dreschler Hurdle (3200m) at Bendigo on 16 June after winning the same race twleve months earlier.

The eight-year-old gelding displayed his quality over the smaller obstacles with a grinding second placing in yesterday's Warrnambool feature, only to outdone by the emerging star.

Premier Melbourne horseman Peter Moody may not generally be known as a trainer of jumpers, but reverting Madedonian, a 2011 Group 3 The Lexus (2500m) placegetter, to a rejuvenated career in jumps racing has certainly been a masterful decision as the exciting gelding scored a slashing maiden hurdle victory at Sandown in May.

A second victory in a hurdle race at Morphettville quickly followed and a third placing behind Wells in the same $100,000 feature yesterday was impressive to warrant attention.

Then, and not at all least, is the champion Black And Bent.

After breaking a three decade old Australian record with ten-straight wins over the hurdles, the seven-year-old has had his colours lowered behind Wells and Gotta Take Care at his two most recent starts.

Is he a spent force at the top level or can the 2011 winner of the Grand National Hurdle hit back in the 2013 edition?

Add into the mix his Robert Smerdon-trained stablemate Brungle Cry, the defending Grand National Hurdle champion and a gun on rain-affected tracks, and it's shaping as a battle royale.

Not even in jumps racing’s comparative “hey day” did the interest in such a race begin to build so far out from race day. A mouthwatering contest hopefully awaits at Sportingbet Park on 14 July.

Brad McLean was aboard Wells for the second time yesterday and maintained a perfect record on the horse formerly owned by Team Williams. In speaking with RSN, he seemed to echo those sentiments.

“I’ve only been on him for two runs and a trial and he has come a long way in a short time,” McLean commented on the Galileo gelding’s progress.

“Gotta Take Care has had such a great year and ran a bottler yesterday and Macedonian looks like a future star.”

Wiping the smiles off Kathryn and her husband Craig’s faces would have been a near impossible task after Well’s feature hurdle victory.

A champion jumps rider himself, Craig Durden looks to be applying that experience in the saddle to his training methods.

“Durds has done so much schooling with him (Wells) which is why he is so competitive over the jumps and on the flat,” McLean pointed out as Wells had also posted a second placing in the Listed Andrew Ramsden Stakes (3200m) at Flemington in May.

While the Moody stable is yet to confirm if Macedonian will head towards the Grand National, Mike Symons – part over of Black And Bent - is hoping the handicapper doesn’t prove to be the gelding’s biggest hurdle in making it to the starting gates.

“He was incredibly brave,” said Symons of Black And Bent’s three length fourth placing behind Wells at Warrnambool.

Giving the winner an eight kilogram advantage and the second horse three kilograms, Symons initially thought the task would be too great.

“To be only beaten by three lengths, it was one of his best runs.”

The question facing trainer Robert Smerdon and the incumbent star’s connections is whether a possible weight of 73.5 kilos in the Grand National will be too much to ask.

“Yesterday’s race was a quality handicap but under the conditions of the National, with a rating of 151, he could be even further up in the weights," noted Symons.

“He doesn’t have the dominance over this current lot so we may have a run on the flat and wait for a race like the J.J. Houlahan Hurdle (3400m) a fortnight later where under the set weights and penalties he could get 69 kilograms.”

Symons is eagerly waiting to see if the Racing Victoria jumps handicapper, David Hegan, revises Black And Bent’s rating after the two defeats.

Despite the possible disadvantage to his horse, the Melbourne Racing Club Chairman reiterates that it is the nature of handicapping that is making jumps racing so interesting of late.

“It’s no good having horses weighted too kindly and having $1.20 favourites in every race. This is why it is so competitive,” Symons said

“The sport is in a good place at the moment.”

Should the Sandown feature shape up as a showdown of the Warrnambool combatants, there’ll be many more reasons to agree.