From the original 105 Grand National 2018 entries, 90 have been confirmed as going forward following yesterday’s first scratchings’ deadline.
Last year’s fourth, and joint ante-post favourite Blaklion, is one of five entries going forward for dual Grand National-winning trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies as he aims for a third winner in the race following the victories of Earth Summit (1998) and Bindaree (2002).
The Willie Mullins-trained Total Recall is the other 10/1 market leader having landed the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury and a competitive Leopardstown handicap hurdle on his last two starts. Ireland’s champion Jump trainer, successful at Aintree with Hedgehunter in 2005, has six other entries remaining in the £1-million contest including recent Bobbyjo Chase winner Bellshill and Pleasant Company who was ninth in last year’s renewal.
A Grand National win has eluded Britain’s champion Jump trainer Nicky Henderson but this year he has two contenders engaged and looks set to saddle up Gold Present and O O Seven as he seeks a first victory in the Randox Health Grand National.
Gordon Elliott, who landed the Grand National with Silver Birch in 2007 in his first season with a training licence, has eight remaining entries headed by Gigginstown owned Outlander as well as Mala Beach and last year’s runner-up Cause Of Causes.
Scottish handler Stuart Coltherd is looking forward to saddling Captain Redbeard following an excellent campaign thus far. He finished a creditable third over two and a half miles in an Ayr handicap chase on first start of the season in November, before coming home sixth to Gas Line Boy in the 188Bet Grand Sefton Handicap Chase (2m 5f) over the Grand National fences in December.
Coltherd, based in Selkirk, reported today: “Captain Redbeard is in excellent form at home and has come out of his latest race at Haydock in great shape.
“That was a really good performance over the longest trip he’s tried, so we were delighted with that run, particularly off a career-high mark.
“Everything’s good and his work has been good at home. The plan was to run at Kelso on Saturday, but with the weather playing havoc with the racing schedule, there’s a likelihood that the meeting won’t go ahead. He’ll run if the weather is OK as the race fits nicely into our schedule.
“If we can’t run on Saturday, then we’ll look to run him somewhere else as I’m keen to get another outing into him before the Randox Health Grand National.
“I think the Randox Health Grand National will suit him. The race is definitely the plan and off his weight, he should definitely get in so we’re looking forward to hopefully running him.”
The Abolitionist was scratched by trainer Dr Richard Newland due to injury. The 10-year-old showed some high-class last season, finishing second to Empire Of Dirt in the Troytown Chase at Navan before landing the Leinster National at Naas and finishing third in the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse.
Newland told Press Association Sport: “He had a little problem earlier in the season and we’ve been trying to get him right, but unfortunately we’ve just run out of time.
“We entered him over hurdles at Ascot earlier in the month, but it’s just in the last week or two that we’ve discovered he isn’t quite right and we’ve got to back off and give him time.
“He’ll have the rest of the season off and we’ll have another go with him next season.”
The Abolitionist was just one of 15 entries scratched yesterday and the full list is:
Abolitionist, Arbre De Vie, Ballyalton, Bravissimo, Bristol De Mai, Missed Approach, Noble Endeavor, Polidam, Poormans Hill, Sametegal, Silsol, The Barrowman, Three Faces West, Vieux Morvan and Vyta Du Roc.