The five day declaration stage for the 2018 Grand National has passed and there are now 63 runners still in contention for Saturday’s race, with a battle at the bottom of the qualifying list for the last guaranteed spot which now goes to the Nigel Twiston-Davies trained Double Ross.
Trainer Gordon Elliott had previously announced that Cause Of Causes was injured and would not run this year. The update is that the three-time Cheltenham Festival-winning ten-year-old has now been retired. He was second in last year’s National and won the 2015 National Hunt Chase, 2016 Kim Muir and 2017 cross-country race at Cheltenham.
Paul Nicholls also confirmed that the Dame Judi Dench owned As De Mee is out and following the tragic death of A Genie In Abottle at Noel Meade’s yard last week means he is unlikely to be represented as Road To Riches has still not made the cut and currently sits at spot number 41.
Also withdrawn today is Go Conquer from Jonjo O’Neill after connections decided to aim him at the Topham Chase instead. That leaves top weight Minella Rocco as his only contender but the trainer who won with Don’t Push It in 2010 believes that his charge has every chance and provided that the ground suits him, could win the race on Saturday.
He said: “I think it will be ideal for him, a big galloping track with wide open spaces. The Canal Turn might be a bit sharp that will require a few more strides as he is a big old horse. I’m really looking forward to bringing him here.
“He’d be a classier horse than Don’t Push It, who would never have been second in the Gold Cup.
“He’d have a better attitude, too, than Don’t Push It and will handle the day quite well.”
Willie Mullins is responsible for the final three withdrawals including the much fancied Bellshill, Rathvinden and Acapella Bourgeois. That leaves him with the current race favourite Total Recall who is as short as 10/1 with Paddy Power and slightly better odds of 11/1 with Betfair.
He will also be saddling up Pleasant Company who won the BobbyJo Chase last season and Childrens’s List who is owned by the Ricci’s.
Those non-runners will now be replaced by:
34. Lord Windermere
35. Captain Redbeard
36. Houblon Des Obeaux
37. Bless The Wings
39. Final Nudge
40. Double Ross
That means that Bryony Frost on Milansbar is now a definite runner and with Captain Redbeard securing his spot, odds have already tumbled to 33/1 from the 100/1 that he was last week!