'Cheeky' Mome has a Grand blueprint
Last year's winner Mon Mome features among 75 horses remaining in the John Smith's Grand National following the latest entry stage.
The 10-year-old landed the Aintree spectacular as a 100/1 shot last season, but will be a fraction of those odds this time having finished a fantastic third in last week's Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Ryanair Chase-winner Albertas Run is a notable scratching, but both Madison du Berlais and Notre Pere remain at the head of the weights with 11st 10lb. Mon Mome will carry 11st 7lb should those two stand their ground -- but trainer Venetia Williams will not be too concerned if the weights rise.
"At the end of the day, it's only a matter of 3lb, it's not the be all and end all," said Williams.
"A horse can fall, you are always afraid of getting hampered, you never know what might happen.
"Three pounds is not a major difference in the great scheme of things. His preparation has gone a lot better than it did last year and we have got a blueprint to follow. We were all very buoyed by what we saw him do at Cheltenham.
"It might've been a bit cheeky running in the Gold Cup as a prep race for the National, but there was £50,000 for third place and we were delighted with what he did.The hill at Cheltenham compensated for the extra mile he'll get in the National."
Williams' Flintoff is currently 49th on the list and the trainer is hoping he too makes the final line-up on April 10. "Flintoff has had a problem with his foot, but he's in good form and is doing his work well. I hope he gets in," Williams added. "There's no time for a prep run before the National for him now, but he was second in the Midlands Grand National last year first time out so we wouldn't be worried about going to Aintree fresh."
Big Fella Thanks and Tricky Trickster remain among the possibles as champion trainer Paul Nicholls chases a first National success, while Dessie Hughes has two leading chances with Vic Venturi and Black Apalachi. Also among the 23 taken out were 2006 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner War Of Attrition, Taranis and Possol.
After winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup last week with Imperial Commander, who is confirmed for the totesport Bowl at Aintree on Thursday week, it is probably beyond the realms of possibility for Nigel Twiston-Davis to think of winning the National.
He has won it twice before, though, and holds numerous chances of doing so again.
"We have seven left in; I think we could run the lot if they are OK," he said. "There's Irish Raptor and I'm very excited about his chances. I think he has got round (the National fences) five or six times and if he runs like he did in the Topham he would have a very good chance. "I owe the Grand National everything, as everybody knows I'd have given up training if it hadn't been for Bindaree winning and he turned my career around."
Handicapper Phil Smith believes Chief Dan George is now best-in at the weights but still only lies in 57th position on the list, needing 17 to come out to get a run, despite winning at the Festival last week. "Chief Dan George is best-in," said Smith. "He has won twice since I did weights and would be 12lb higher now; the only problem is he has a 50-50 chance of getting in."
Kingsfort, Godolphin's leading chance for the StanJames.com 2000 Guineas, has been ruled out of the first Classic of the season on May 1 after meeting with a setback.
Sheikh Mohammed snapped up the War Chant colt after his second career started yielded success in the Group One National Stakes at the Curragh, and he was just 14-1 with Coral to provided Godolphin with their first 2000 Guineas win since Island Sands in 1999. Racing manager Simon Crisford said: "Kingsfort is not going to make the Guineas as he has had a setback.