Last year's winner Tiger Roll headlines 100 remaining contenders, following yesterday's scratchings' deadline, for the £1 million Randox Health Grand National, details of which are revealed today.
Tiger Roll (Gordon Elliott IRE, 11st 1lb) defeated Pleasant Company (Willie Mullins IRE, 10st 11lb, 25/1 with Betway) by a head in 2018 and the nine-year-old is aiming to become the first multiple winner of the Randox Health Grand National since the great Red Rum (1973, 1974 & 1977).
Gordon Elliott has 21 entries going forward, the most of any trainer, with his team also including 2018 Irish Grand National hero General Principle (10st, 25/1) and recent Punchestown Grand National Trial victor Dounikos (10st 10lb, 33/1).
Last season's Grade 2 National Hunt Chase winner Rathvinden (10st 10lb, 14/1) heads the nine Willie Mullins-trained runners after scoring decisively on his seasonal reappearance in the Grade 2 Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse on February 23rd. Ireland's champion Jump trainer, successful with Hedgehunter in 2005, has also left in Up For Review (10st 2lb, 25/1), an eye-catching third in the Thyestes Handicap Chase on his latest start.
Ireland's hand is strengthened further by last year's fourth Anibale Fly (Tony Martin IRE, 11st 6lb, 25/1), who was second in the Grade 2 Red Mills Chase at Gowran Park earlier this month, and Cheltenham Festival scorer Mall Dini (Pat Kelly IRE, 10st 4lb, 25/1).
This season's Welsh Grand National victor Elegant Escape (Colin Tizzard, 11st 4lb) is the shortest-priced British-trained contender. Elegant Escape is on course to run next in the Grade 1 Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup, which is also set to feature Randox Health Grand National top-weight Bristol De Mai (Nigel Twiston-Davies, 11st 10lb, 33/1).
The 2017 Randox Health Grand National hero One For Arthur (Lucinda Russell, 10st 10lb, 33/1), who was unable to defend his crown last year due to injury, could clash with Lake View Lad (Nick Alexander, 10st 11lb, 33/1), Mala Beach (Gordon Elliott IRE, 10st 12lb, 50/1) and Black Corton (Paul Nicholls, 10st 11lb, 50/1) in the Listed Premier Chase at Kelso this weekend.
Blaklion (10st 12lb, 33/1) finished fourth behind One For Arthur in 2017 and was considered a leading contender last year, only to be brought down at the first fence. The ten-year-old, formerly trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, last week joined North Yorkshire trainer Philip Kirby after being purchased by Darren & Annaley Yates.
Blaklion ran with promise on his final start for Twiston-Davies when fifth over hurdles in a Pertemps Network Final qualifier at Haydock Park on February 16th.
Kirby said: "Blaklion has been great since arriving at the yard - he seems very straightforward.
"We have not done any fast work with him, but all of his steady work has been great and he seems very happy with himself.
"We are going to finalise a plan over the coming days. He has entries at Cheltenham but, although nothing is certain at this stage, I would probably say he won't go given the way the ground is going to be.
"He looks fairly handicapped for the Grand National and is entitled to go there with a fair chance."
A maximum of 40 runners can line up for the 2019 Randox Health Grand National, with the next scratchings' stage on Tuesday, March 19th.
THE FOLLOWING HORSES HAVE BEEN SCRATCHED:
- SKIPTHECUDDLES (IRE) & LIEUTENANT COLONEL (not qualified)