Grand National 2014: Lost Glory sole withdrawal from final field
CRABBIE'S GRAND NATIONAL MEETING
- Venue: Aintree Racecourse
- Date: 3-5 April
- Grand National: 16:15 BST, Saturday, 5 April
Coverage: Big-race commentaries on BBC Radio 5 live. Programme from Aintree on Grand National day; live text commentary on BBC Sport website
The field has been finalised for Saturday's Grand National at Aintree, with a maximum of 40 runners set to line up in the famous steeplechase.
Lost Glory was the only withdrawal on Thursday, allowing Swing Bill a run.
Tidal Bay, trained by Paul Nicholls, heads the weights as the 13-year-old seeks to become the oldest winner for more than 90 years.
Latest approximate National odds
- 8-1 Teaforthree
- 12-1 Monbeg Dude, Double Seven
- 14-1 Long Run, Tidal Bay
- 20-1 Rocky Creek, Burton Port, Prince De Beauchene, Pineau De Re, Triolo D'Alene
- 25-1 Bar
(Best prices 11:00 BST Thurs)
Contenders include 2011 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Long Run and Monbeg Dude, winner of the Welsh National in 2013.
Swing Bill, trained by David Pipe, was sixth last year and is owned by Judy Halewood, the boss of race sponsors Crabbie's.
Last year's third-placed horse Teaforthree is the current 8-1 favourite ahead of 12-1 shot Monbeg Dude, who is part-owned by former England rugby union captain Mike Tindall, team-mate James Simpson-Daniel and Welsh fly-half Nicky Robinson.
Tindall's wife Zara, a leading equestrian rider, supervised schooling sessions last year to help the horse, trained by Michael Scudamore.
There had been 65 entries remaining for the race, which is run over 30 fences and nearly four and a half miles, with the lowest-rated horses balloted out.
The 2013 winner, Auroras Encore, has been retired and runner-up Cappa Bleu is injured.
Long Run, the Nicky Henderson-trained dual King George VI Chase winner, is the mount of amateur jockey Sam Waley-Cohen.
Champion trainer Henderson also has Hennessy Gold Cup winner Triolo D'Alene, Hunt Ball and Shakalakaboomboom as he looks to win the race for the first time.
Double Seven has been well backed after 18-time champion jockey AP McCoy was confirmed as rider of the Irish-trained horse.
The weighting game
Unlike the Cheltenham Gold Cup, where horses race off level weights, the Grand National is a handicap.
Horses are ranked according to their previous form, with the best given top weight.
The handicapper's ultimate (although in practice unfeasible) aim is for the horses to pass the winning post in a dead heat.
The closest finish came in 2012 when Neptune Collonges denied Sunnyhillboy by the shortest possible distance - a nose.
McCoy, who won the big Aintree race on Don't Push It four years ago, picked the eight-year-old ahead of Colbert Station, also owned by JP McManus.
Double Seven, who was 25-1 earlier in the week, is already down to as low as 12-1. The horse is trained by Martin Brassil, who triumphed with Numbersixvalverde in 2006.
Ireland's hopes of a first Grand National winner since Silver Birch in 2007 include the Willie Mullins-trained Prince De Beauchene.
The National, which has a record prize fund of £1m this year, is a handicap chase run over nearly four and a half miles, with different weights given to runners based on previous form.
Sam Twiston-Davies, 21, will ride Tidal Bay as the 13-year-old - carrying top weight of 11st 10lb - bids to become the race's oldest winner since Sergeant Murphy in 1923.
Trainer Nicholls, triumphant with Neptune Collonges in 2012, is also likely to run Hennessy second Rocky Creek and Welsh National runner-up Hawkes Point.
Officials hope there will be no serious injuries after all runners came home safely in 2013, when a more flexible fence structure was introduced following two equine fatalities in each of the previous two runnings.