There are 96 entries left in this year’s Grand National, though only the top 40 in the weights will be allowed to run on April 11th.
Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Lord Windermere and Carlingford Lough have been jointly-allotted top-weight of 11st 10lb.
As a result, Carlingford Lough (John Kiely) will be able to run off a mark of 161, despite having an official rating of 166 after an emotional victory under A P McCoy in the Grade One Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown on February 8.
Oliver Sherwood's Many Clouds has been given 11st 9lb, while champion trainer Paul Nicholls has four entries near the top of the weights - Sam Winner (11st 8lb), Unioniste (11st 6lb), Rocky Creek (11st 3lb) and Rolling Aces (11st 3lb). The Somerset handler is also responsible for Rebel Rebellion (10st 12lb), Mon Parrain (10st 11lb) and Benvolio (10st 8lb).
Nicky Henderson is yet to win the Grand National and his two entries, Rajdhani Express and Hadrian's Approach, have been given 11st 4lb and 11st respectively.
Pineau De Re (Dr Richard Newland), bidding to become the first horse since Red Rum to win back-to-back Grand Nationals, has 11st (10st 6lb in 2014), while last year's runner-up Balthazar King (Philip Hobbs) has been handed 11st 2lb (10st 13lb in 2014).
Shutthefrontdoor, AP McCoy's likely final Grand National mount who was recently taken out of the Cheltenham Gold Cup in favour of a tilt at Aintree, has been given 11st 2lb and is the 12/1 clear favourite with Betfred, the official betting partner of the Crabbie's Grand National Festival. His trainer Jonjo O'Neill took the spoils with Don't Push It in 2010 and has three other contenders in 2012 runner-up Sunnyhillboy (10st 8lb), Burton Port (10st 5lb) and Merry King (10st 5lb).
Boston Bob on 11st 7lb has the most weight of Willie Mullins' four entries. Ireland's champion trainer, successful with Hedgehunter in 2005, is also responsible for Back In Focus (10st 13lb), Ballycasey (10st 13lb) and leading hunter chaser Prince De Beauchene (10st 6lb).
Gordon Elliott won the Crabbie's Grand National at the first attempt with Silver Birch in 2007. His three entries are topped by Grade One-winning chaser Roi Du Mee (11st 4lb), with Cause Of Causes (10st 9lb) and Make A Track (10st 7lb).
As well as Lord Windermere, trainer Jim Culloty and owner Dr Ronan Lambe have Spring Heeled (10st 12lb), who won the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase at last year's Cheltenham Festival.
Tony Martin has four engaged, headed by Paddy Power Chase victor Living Next Door (10st 10lb), while Mouse Morris is planning to run Grade One-winner First Lieutenant (11st 3lb).
The last two winners of the Scottish Grand National, Al Co (Peter Bowen) and Godsmejudge (Alan King) have both been allotted 10st 8lb. Monbeg Dude (Michael Scudamore), winner of the 2012 Welsh National and seventh at Aintree last year, has been given 10st 7lb.
Those further down the weights include recent Catterick winner Saint Are (Tom George, 10st 6lb) and Betfred Becher Chase hero, 14-year-old Oscar Time (Robert Waley-Cohen, 10st 5lb). Teaforthree (Rebecca Curtis) has been given 10st 7lb), while last year's fourth Alvarado (Fergal O'Brien) is 57th on the list of weights on 10st 3lb.
Betfred spokesman Andrew Griffiths said: "The Crabbie's Grand National is an iconic event and we are thrilled to be involved as the official betting partner. The Grand National never fails to top the turnover charts and this year's renewal could be the biggest yet with Tony (A P) McCoy due to take his final ride in the race. Whatever he rides is sure to go off favourite and the plunge has already begun on Shutthefrontdoor, who has halved in price since the entries were revealed."
Grade 3, £1,000,000 Total Prize Fund. 4.15pm, Aintree, Saturday, April 11, 2015. Four miles, three and a half furlongs. Weights revealed Tuesday, February 17. First scratchings’ deadline February 25. Second scratchings’ deadline March 18. Five-day confirmation stage March 31. Final declaration stage 10.00am, April 3. MAXIMUM 40 RUNNERS
Horse / Wgt / Rating / Owner / Trainer
1) CARLINGFORD LOUGH (IRE) 11-10 161 J P McManus John Kiely IRE
2) LORD WINDERMERE (IRE) 11-10 161 Dr Ronan Lambe Jim Culloty IRE
3) MANY CLOUDS (IRE) 11-09 160 Trevor Hemmings Oliver Sherwood
4) SAM WINNER (FR) 11-08 159 Angela Yeoman Paul Nicholls
5) BOSTON BOB (IRE) 11-07 158 Andrea & Graham Wylie Willie Mullins IRE
6) UNIONISTE (FR) 11-06 157 John Hales Paul Nicholls
7) RAJDHANI EXPRESS 11-04 155 Robert Waley-Cohen Nicky Henderson
8) ROI DU MEE (FR) 11-04 155 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott IRE
9) FIRST LIEUTENANT (IRE) 11-03 154 Gigginstown House Stud Mouse Morris IRE
10) ROCKY CREEK (IRE) 11-03 154 The Johnson & Stewart Families Paul Nicholls
11) ROLLING ACES (IRE) 11-03 154 David Martin, Paul Barber & Ian Fogg Paul Nicholls
12) BALTHAZAR KING (IRE) 11-02 153 The Brushmakers Philip Hobbs
13) HOME FARM (IRE) 11-02 153 Chris Jones Henry de Bromhead IRE
14) SHUTTHEFRONTDOOR (IRE) 11-02 153 J P McManus Jonjo O’Neill
15) ALDERWOOD (IRE) 11-01 152 J P McManus Thomas Mullins IRE
16) DOUBLE ROSS (IRE) 11-01 152 Options O Syndicate Nigel Twiston-Davies
17) HADRIAN’S APPROACH (IRE) 11-00 151 Richard & Lizzie Kelvin-Hughes Nicky Henderson
18) KATENKO (FR) 11-00 151 Andrew Brooks Venetia Williams
19) PINEAU DE RE (FR) 11-00 151 John Provan Dr Richard Newland
20) BACK IN FOCUS (IRE) 10-13 150 Andrea & Graham Wylie Willie Mullins IRE
21) BALLYCASEY (IRE) 10-13 150 Susannah Ricci Willie Mullins IRE
22) REBEL REBELLION (IRE) 10-12 149 Woodhouse, Sutton & Dobson Paul Nicholls
23) SPRING HEELED (IRE) 10-12 149 Dr Ronan Lambe Jim Culloty IRE
24) DOLATULO (FR) 10-11 148 Chasemore Farm Warren Greatrex
25) MON PARRAIN (FR) 10-11 148 John & Barbara Cotton Paul Nicholls
26) CARLITO BRIGANTE (IRE) 10-10 147 06 Zoo Ltd Karen McLintock
27) LIVING NEXT DOOR (IRE) 10-10 147 John Breslin Tony Martin IRE
28) POOLE MASTER 10-10 147 Geoff Thompson David Pipe
29) SHOTGUN PADDY (IRE) 10-10 147 Axom (XXXVI) Emma Lavelle
30) CAUSE OF CAUSES (USA) 10-09 146 J P McManus Gordon Elliott IRE
31) NIGHT IN MILAN (IRE) 10-09 146 Richard Collins Keith Reveley
32) RUBI LIGHT (FR) 10-09 146 Bill Hennessy Robert Hennessy IRE
33) THE DRUIDS NEPHEW (IRE) 10-09 146 The Stonehenge Druids Neil Mulholland
34) AL CO (FR) 10-08 145 Frank Lloyd Peter Bowen
35) BENVOLIO (IRE) 10-08 145 Patricia Thompson Paul Nicholls
36) GODSMEJUDGE (IRE) 10-08 145 Favourites Racing (Syndication) Ltd Alan King
37) SUNNYHILLBOY (IRE) 10-08 145 J P McManus Jonjo O’Neill
38) CORRIN WOOD (IRE) 10-07 144 Dermot Hanafin Robert Rose Ian Whitfield Donald McCain
39) MAKE A TRACK (IRE) 10-07 144 Gigginstown House Stud Gordon Elliott IRE
40) MONBEG DUDE (IRE) 10-07 144 Oydunow Michael Scudamore
41) TEAFORTHREE (IRE) 10-07 144 Conyers, O’Reilly, Roddis, Zeffman Rebecca Curtis
42) THE RAINBOW HUNTER 10-07 144 May We Never Be Found Out Partnership Kim Bailey
43) ACROSS THE BAY (IRE) 10-06 143 Scotch Piper Syndicate Donald McCain
44) MY MURPHY (IRE) 10-06 143 Hans Zindel Liam Burke IRE
45) PRINCE DE BEAUCHENE (FR) 10-06 143 Prince & Paupers Syndicate Willie Mullins IRE
46) SAINT ARE (FR) 10-06 143 David Fox Tom George
47) BURTON PORT (IRE) 10-05 142 Trevor Hemmings Jonjo O’Neill
48) MERRY KING (IRE) 10-05 142 Frank Gillespie Jonjo O’Neill
49) OSCAR TIME (IRE) 10-05 142 Robert Waley-Cohen Robert Waley-Cohen
50) TRANQUIL SEA (IRE) 10-05 142 Jean & Clemmie Shipp Warren Greatrex
51) BOB FORD (IRE) 10-04 141 The Bob Ford Partnership Rebecca Curtis
52) CEDRE BLEU (FR) 10-04 141 Tangledupinblue Charlie Mann
53) CHANCE DU ROY (FR) 10-04 141 Daphne Du Pre Philip Hobbs
54) GAS LINE BOY (IRE) 10-04 141 Mick Fitzgerald Racing Club Philip Hobbs
55) SUPER DUTY (IRE) 10-04 141 Brannon, Dick, Hernon & Holden Ian Williams
56) WYCK HILL (IRE) 10-04 141 J P McManus David Bridgwater
57) ALVARADO (IRE) 10-03 140 William & Angela Rucker Fergal O’Brien
58) BUDDY BOLERO (IRE) 10-03 140 Malcolm Denmark Tony Martin IRE
59) COURT BY SURPRISE (IRE) 10-03 140 Nick Mustoe Emma Lavelle
60) OWEGA STAR (IRE) 10-03 140 Anthony Callan/Siobhan Callan Peter Fahey IRE
61) PORTRAIT KING (IRE) 10-03 140 Marie Davis Maurice Phelan IRE
62) RIVER CHOICE (FR) 10-03 140 Fergus Wilson Richard Chotard FR
63) BAILEYS CONCERTO (IRE) 10-02 139 United Five Racing & Andrew Sayer Dianne Sayer
64) DUKE OF LUCCA (IRE) 10-02 139 Lesley Field Philip Hobbs
65) ELY BROWN (IRE) 10-02 139 Countrywide Vehicle Rentals Taxi Hire Charlie Longsdon
66) KRUZHLININ (GER) 10-02 139 Paul & Clare Rooney Donald McCain
67) RENARD (FR) 10-02 139 ROA Arkle Partnership Venetia Williams
68) ROYALE KNIGHT 10-02 139 Chris Stedman & Robert Corsan Dr Richard Newland
69) SOLL 10-02 139 Derrick Mossop David Pipe
70) THEATRICAL STAR 10-02 139 Brocade Racing Colin Tizzard
71) RAZ DE MAREE (FR) 10-01 138 James Swan Sandra Hughes IRE
72) BROADWAY BUFFALO (IRE) 10-00 137 Jo Tracey David Pipe
73) GREEN FLAG (IRE) 10-00 137 John Adam Lucinda Russell
74) GUESS AGAIN (IRE) 10-00 137 Malcolm Denmark Tony Martin IRE
75) MAGGIO (FR) 10-00 137 Mike Deren Patrick Griffin IRE
76) THE PACKAGE 10-00 137 The Johnson Family David Pipe
77) GALLANT OSCAR (IRE) 9-13 136 Garrett Kelly Tony Martin IRE
78) GOONYELLA (IRE) 9-13 136 Ann & Alan Potts Partnership Jim Dreaper IRE
79) SYDNEY PAGET (IRE) 9-13 136 Roger O’Byrne Donald McCain
80) VINTAGE STAR (IRE) 9-13 136 Trevor Hemmings Sue Smith
81) ALPHA VICTOR (IRE) 9-12 135 Denton, Kinsey, Osborne Hse, Wesley-Yates William Kinsey
82) MOUNTAINOUS (IRE) 9-12 135 Walters Plant Hire & James & Jean Potter Richard Lee
83) IKORODU ROAD 9-11 134 John Odell Graeme McPherson
84) MART LANE (IRE) 9-11 134 Geoff Thompson Sophie Leech
85) ANY CURRENCY (IRE) 9-09 132 Cash Is King Martin Keighley
86) HARRY THE VIKING 9-09 132 Jim Beaumont, Douglas Pryde & Quona Thomson Sandy Thomson
87) RIGADIN DE BEAUCHENE (FR) 9-09 132 Andrew Wiles Venetia Williams
88) BALLYOLIVER 9-08 131 Richard Britten-Long Venetia Williams
89) GLENQUEST (IRE) 9-08 131 Coolglen Syndicate Stuart Crawford IRE
90) LACKAMON 9-07 130 Sue Smith Sue Smith
91) STANDING OVATION (IRE) 9-07 130 The Bravo Partnership David Pipe
92) LOCH BA (IRE) 9-05 128 Peter Taplin, Susan Bunney & Partners Mick Channon
93) ROSE OF THE MOON (IRE) 9-05 128 Middleham Park Racing XXXIII & Partners David O’Meara
94) AMERICAN SPIN 9-03 126 George Collacott & R Gadd Luke Dace
95) TALES OF MILAN (IRE) 9-01 124 Phil Middleton Phil Middleton
96) NEPTUNE EQUESTER 9-00 123 Jim Beaumont Sandy Thomson
Historically, the allocation of weights for the Grand National marked a pivotal point for the prospects of trainers, jockeys and owners. It has cleared the path to big-race glory or produced a burden too heavy to overcome.
Unlike the other most prestigious steeplechase of the year, the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the Grand National is a handicap race. This means horses carry differing weights according to their previous form. The idea behind a handicap is to make for a more even race - the handicapper's ultimate (though in practice unfeasible) aim is for the horses to pass the winning post in a dead heat.
The Grand National is the only race in which the British Horseracing Authority’s Head of Handicapping Phil Smith can use his discretion to determine the weight each horse will carry and can deviate from the normal handicap ratings.
The "best" horse in the race is given the top weight (about 11st 10lb) and the weights allotted to the other horses are set in relation to this. This means if the top-weighted horse drops out, the weights of the other competitors may alter but will not change in relation to each other.
Even if a horse is allotted a weight of 8st 12lbs, it must carry 10 stone as this is the required minimum. This means some horses will be carrying possibly a stone more than they should be (known as being out of the handicap) and this disadvantage should suggest they are likely to perform less well than their rivals. Many punters will automatically put a line through horses who are out of the handicap.
In allocating a weight to each horse, handicapper Phil Smith must take a variety of factors into account, including form - a horse's recent and previous performances - and the course: the so-called 'Aintree Factor' - does the horse like the track and is he proven over long trips?
The final field is determined by each contender's rating, with the highest-weighted horses given preference in a maximum field of 40.
No horse has won the National carrying more than 11st 7lb since Red Rum's record third victory, under 11st 8lb, in 1977. However, whilst in the 25 runnings between 1984 and 2009 only one winner (Hedgehunter in 2005) carried more than 11st, the win in 2010 of Don't Push It carrying 11st 5lb may herald a change in this trend.
Indeed, all of the last four winners have carried at least 11st, culminating in Neptune Collonges success under 11st 6lbs last season, and there is a widespread view, gaining popularity, that horses at the top of the handicap are no longer at such a big disadvantage, in part due to a new formula for handicapping the National which was devised in 2001 and has essentially compressed the handicap, decreasing the gap between the top-weighted and lowest-weighted horses and creating a more competitive race.
According to Phil Smith: "Looking back over the history of the race, we realised that the highly weighted horses had a moderate record, so we thought something needed to be done to try to not overburden the better horses."
Some 15 years ago, the Grand National field was still largely made up of horses out of the handicap and therefore carrying the minimum 10st weight - on the final racecard these could sometimes account for 70% of the field. But in the past few years, every horse has got into the handicap proper. In 1999, the lowest-rated horse in the race had an official rating of 110; in the 2011 renewal, the lowest-rated horse, Golden Kite, has a rating of 135. In other words, the quality of the field has increased by 25lbs in 11 years.
The result is that the top weighted horses will now have only a few pounds more than most of their rivals and will be giving no more than a stone and a half to any runner - a far cry from a century ago, when Manifesto, the 1897 and 1899 winner, gave 48lb to some horses in the 1900 race.
All of which means that shouldering a burden of 11st or more - previously considered insurmountable - is no longer the task it used to be. When Hedgehunter carried 11st 1lb in 2005, he was the first National winner to carry over 11st in 22 years. But 2009 winner, Mon Mome, carried 11st to win the race in a year in which the top four horses all carried 11st or more, whilst the 2010 winner - Don't Push It - carried 11st 5lb and the runner-up - Black Apalachi - carried 11st 6lb.
In a single, idiosyncratic race like the National, there will always be outsiders. But it is likely that Aintree has seen the last of winners such as Bobbyjo who, carrying 10st in 1999 and racing from 14lbs out of the handicap, streaked to victory by 10 lengths. In fact, the recent dramatic increase in the quality of horses taking part means Bobbyjo wouldn't have made the starting line in any of the past 10 runnings. According to Smith: "Weight is important but it's not the be all and end all, it's just the trainers who think it is."
Thus, whilst Red Rum remains the last horse to win the Grand National off top weight (and the first since the 1930s), it may not be long before that achievement is repeated – 2013 winner, Neptune Collonges, was the fifth top weight.
As sporting sights go, few can match the sheer excitement of 40 horses thundering towards the first fence at Aintree in the Grand National