Grand National 2019: Winner in 2018 Tiger Roll can 'never be discounted'
As the weights are published for the runners being aimed at the 172nd Grand National, and the countdown to the 6 April race goes up a notch, our correspondent Cornelius Lysaght picks out half a dozen runners that catch his eye.
Black Corton weight: 10 stones 11 pounds odds (Betway): 50-1
What a likeable horse Black Corton, trained by Paul Nicholls and owned by a group including TV host Jeremy Kyle, is. Although without a success so far this season, the eight-year-old whose previous exploits - including a Grade One win - did much to put his regular jockey Bryony Frost on the map, has run a couple of very solid races, one of them at Wetherby when he and Frost had to recover from an awkward jump early on that nearly saw the rider dislodged from the saddle.
Judged by that, the rough and tumble of Aintree should hold few fears for horse or a jockey who could be the first female rider to win.
Joe Farrell weight: 9-12 odds: 50-1
Famously, Wales has not sent out the winner of the Aintree Grand National since Kirkland was successful in 1905, but 114 years on, the Principality has a fair candidate to be king in Joe Farrell, who travelled to Scotland last spring - the part of the year in which he really thrives - and plundered their version of the famous race at Ayr.
Trained in Pembrokeshire by Rebecca Curtis, who saddled Teaforthree to be third in 2013, the 10-year-old, who does need a few higher up the weights to come out to grant him a run, isn't always the most brilliant of jumpers, but he's courageous, has a good-quality cruising speed and should be still galloping over the marathon distance when the stamina of others is beginning to seep away.
Lake View Lad weight: 10-11 odds: 33-1
Trained in rural Fife, Scotland by Nick Alexander and team, Lake View Lad looks to create history for his owner, the businessman Trevor Hemmings, whose infectious enthusiasm for the Grand National has already been rewarded with victory on a record-equalling three occasions with Hedgehunter (2005), Ballabriggs (2011) and Many Clouds (2015).
The nine-year-old, who'd be a first contender in the Aintree feature for Alexander, has made a dream start since his pre-season purchase by Hemmings, who is also the owner of entries Warrior's Tale and Vintage Clouds, winning significant prizes at Newcastle and Wetherby from just two starts in his green, yellow and white silks.
A grey gelding, he's a good jumper and responds like an old pro to the urgings of his rider, so a decent run can be anticipated.
Rock The Kasbah weight: 10-9 odds: 25-1
It's no secret that the Grand National is not champion jockey Richard Johnson's favourite race; in 20 attempts - more than any other rider - not only has he yet to win, but he's also had to endure two near-misses, on What's Up Boys (2002) and Balthazar King (2014).
Johnson has actually missed the last two stagings, but the prospect of partnering Rock The Kasbah, trained like his runners-up by Philip Hobbs, is likely to entice him back. Although beaten subsequently, there was a lot to like about Rock The Kasbah's success at Cheltenham in November when he kept on well for a battling win in a decent race.
Tiger Roll weight: 11-1 odds: 20-1 joint favourite
A year on from Grand National success, Tiger Roll's trainer Gordon Elliott has said that it's a tall order to think that the horse, owned by aviation tycoon Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown House Stud racing arm, could possibly emulate Red Rum (1974-74) and record back-to-back wins.
Indeed Elliott, who with 22 has the most entries in the race, has said the priority for the nine-year-old is to improve on his already spectacular Cheltenham Festival record and win a fourth trophy there.
However, Tiger Roll, one of two former winners among the entries alongside One For Arthur (2017), is such a wonderful versatile performer, from two miles to Aintree's four and a quarter, that he can never be discounted.
Walk In The Mill weight: 10-0 odds: 25-1
Walk In The Mill is one from one over the Grand National course at Aintree, having beaten track-regulars Vieux Lion Rouge and Ultragold in December's Becher Chase, staged over three-and-a-quarter miles.
Had an attack of lameness not struck at the eleventh hour in April 2018 after the nine-year-old was granted a late place as a reserve, that record might be better still. Certainly, plenty of decent judges were keen on his prospects.
Trained by Robert Walford, owned by Lady Harding and ridden by jockey James Best, this one looks to have plenty of credentials though the softer the going the better.