Big names face anxious wait over Grand National participation
With less than a month to ‘The People’s Race’ fingers crossed and hands much washed many well-fancied runners’ connections still don’t know whether they will get a run in the Randox Health Grand National.
The 40 runner safety limit and current 105 strong entry leaves plenty of connections set to be disappointed. The 40 highest rated runners will get in so for those outside of the top 40 it is a case of fingers crossed.
Tiger Roll is number one as the highest-rated horse entered but as is traditional quite a few of the higher rated horses are very doubtful runners. The likes of Bristol De Mai, Aso and Top Ville Ben all rated unlikely participants with Graded race entries elsewhere more likely targets but beyond this trio most of those towards the top of the weights are likely to take their place.
The cut is likely to fall somewhere between the current numbers 50 and 60. Long-term fancy Le Breuil who won the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham last season is certainly a big doubt as his trainer Ben Pauling has conceded. He is currently number 60 on the list which makes him surely at best a 50-50 chance to get in. Those with ante-post tickets will certainly be sweating on his participation.
Others in and around the perceived cut off point include Paul Nicholls hope Give Me A Copper who ought to get in as number 49 at present, last year’s seventh Regal Encore (number 54) and the massively progressive Lord Du Mesnil (number 47). Lord Du Mesnil is only seven and Richard Hobson has already said his stable star will only run if conditions are very testing; he will wait until 2018 otherwise.
Runners which appear relatively prominently in ante-post list but with little to no chance of getting a run include Mall Dini (number 68), Fitzhenry (number 71) and Fingerontheswitch (78). Gordon Elliott has seven already in the top 40 and a further four runners between 50 and 70 on the list so his National calculations will greatly shape the race for many of those mentioned above.
Willie Mullins has six entries with only Cabaret Queen who is currently number 56 in any danger of not getting a run due to the cut point, although the trainer has speculated that only one of Acapella Bourgeois and Total Recall is likely to go with the duo in the same ownership.
As far as the main fancies weights, Tiger Roll’s bid for history will see him carry 11st 10lbs. Long-term second favourite Burrows Saint – who won last year’s Irish equivalent – is slated to carry a stone less on 10st 10lbs which is the same as recent impressive winner Defintly Red whose trainer said afterwards he would definitely (pardon the pun) beat Tiger Roll.
Long-term plot Walk In The Mill has been laid out to perfection, he is number 40 as it stands and set to carry 10st 4lbs. The same weight is assigned to number 39 Kimberlite Candy who comes here having won the Classic Chase at Warwick which springboarded 2017 winner One For Arthur into the race. Recent Irish Grade 3 winner Any Second Now is on 10st 6lbs while last year’s second Magic Of Light has 10st 12lbs.
With less than four weeks to go many connections will be praying to get a run in this the most storied of handicaps. Many are entered for races at Cheltenham this week and their efforts there will be very significant so the likes of Le Breuil who himself will go for the Kim Muir still do have a chance to sneak in at the foot of the weights.