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Irish hold a Grand hand

AS EVER, there was an extremely strong Irish entry for the John Smith's Aintree Grand National and four of the top market principles are Irish-trained.

The Willie Mullins duo of On His Own and Prince De Beauchene are joint favourites across the board at around 16/1, while the Ted Walsh-trained pair of Colbert Station and last year's third, Seabass, are both generally 20/1, although Boylesports go 25/1 for Paddy Power Chase winner Colbert Station, who is JP McManus-owned.

Of the 84 entries for the race a total of 32 are Irish representatives, with Mullins spearheading that challenge with a total of seven entries as he bids to emulate the success of Hedgehunter in 2005.

Renewal

Gordon Elliott, who famously trained just his third ever winner when Silver Birch won the 2007 renewal, has six entries for this year's edition.

His first Grade One winner, Jessies Dream, is a notable entry along with Gigginstown's consistent performer Roi Du Mee.

The last two Irish National winners, Organisedconfusion and Lion Na Bearnai, both hold an engagement, while Dessie Hughes has put in three of his string, and Noel Meade and Tom Taaffe, like Ted Walsh, have two entries.

Tidal Bay, who is one of four possible runners for last year's winning trainer, Paul Nicholls, is likely to be top weight when details are announced on February 12.

Owner McManus could have seven potential runners for the extended 4m 3f contest, which he famously won with Don't Push It in 2010, and his trainer, Jonjo O'Neill, is one of 10 who are represented in the contest that have already won the most famous horse race of them all.

An Irish-trained winner is deemed to be a 9/4 chance by bookmakers Betfred, while Mullins to add to Hedgehunter's victory is 4/1 with the same firm.

Andrea and Graham Wylie, who own both On His Own and Prince Du Beauchene with Mullins and have Tidal Bay with Nicholls are 6/1 to win the race, and Nicholls is quoted at the same price.

Attendance

One owner who is likely to have at least one runner in the race but is extremely unlikely to be in attendance is Alex Ferguson as Manchester United are due to be playing Manchester City on the same day and the Scot's Harry The Viking and What A Friend are both among the list.

A lady rider to win the race for the first time ever is 12/1, with the Evening Herald's Katie Walsh a candidate to ride Seabass 12 months on from finishing third in the race, and Nina Carberry and Lucy Alexander two other lady riders who could be booked to ride in the race.

Tony McCoy is 12/1 to win it for a second time and Ruby Walsh is the same price to finish first past the post for a third time in the Aintree Grand National.