TIDAL BAY and Long Run head a maximum field of 40 for the Crabbie’s Grand National at Aintree tomorrow after all the leading fancies stood their ground at the final declaration stage.
The teenage Tidal Bay will carry top-weight of 11st 10lb in the hands of Sam Twiston-Davies, with Cheltenham Gold Cup and dual King George VI Chase hero Long Run next in on 11st 9lb under Sam Waley- Cohen.
Long Run’s trainer Nicky Henderson also has Hennessy Gold Cup winner Triolo D’Alene, Hunt Ball and Shakalakaboomboom in contention as he aims to secure his first victory in the race.
Last year’s third home, Teaforthree, heads the market for the world’s most famous steeplechase for Welsh trainer Rebecca Curtis, with Nick Scholfield the man on board.
Perennial champion jockey Tony McCoy had to choose between the JP McManus-owned duo of Double Seven and Colbert Station and he has, as expected, sided with the firstnamed.
McManus’ other possible, Lost Glory, was the only horse who was guaranteed a run to be taken out at the 48-hour stage.
Other leading contenders include Michael Scudamore’s Monbeg Dude, the Willie Mullins-trained Prince De Beauchene and Balthazar King from Philip Hobbs’ yard.
The 40th and final horse in the field is the David Pipe-trained Swing Bill, although there are four reserves.
Goonyella, Soll, Night In Milan and Minella For Value could potentially get a run if there are withdrawals from the final 40 before a deadline of 9am today.
Meanwhile, Jonjo O’Neill’s World Hurdle winner More Of That was an unexpected absentee from the final field of seven for the Silver Cross Stayers’ Hurdle.
Registered as the Liverpool Hurdle, the Grade One has been the aim for O’Neill’s unbeaten star since he lowered the colours of Annie Power at Cheltenham last month.
However, an 11th-hour setback means he will not now run on Merseyside.
Owner JP McManus’ racing manager, Frank Berry, said: ‘‘Unfortunately, More Of That scoped badly this morning, that’s all I know.’’ His absence means Tony McCoy maintains his partnership with the Rebecca Curtis-trained At Fishers Cross, who finished third at Cheltenham.
Zarkandar, Thousand Stars, Whisper, Salubrious, Melodic Rendezvous and The Knoxs complete the field.
Nigel Twiston-Davies is convinced Double Ross will relish the challenge of competing over the Grand National fences in the Crabbie’s Supporting Everton In The Community Topham Chase at Aintree today.
The Naunton handler understandably has high hopes for the eight-year-old chestnut, who has been in terrific form this season.
Double Ross has won two big Grade Three handicaps at Cheltenham this winter and was last seen finishing third in the JLT Novices’ Chase at the Festival in March.
Twiston-Davies said: ‘‘I’m sure he’ll take to the fences. He’s a very good jumper and he should be fine.
‘‘He’s done very well this season.’’ Paul Fahey hopes the ground does not deteriorate too much for He’llberemembered, a solid third in the Carrickmines Handicap at Leopardstown in March.
The County Kildare handler said: ‘‘He’s won on ground ranging from good to firm, to soft and heavy.
‘‘He struggles with a trip in very deep ground and I think he is probably best on better ground.
‘‘He will be my first runner over the Grand National fences and it is all very exciting.’’ Irish interests have also been bolstered by the presence of You Must Know Me, who, in contrast to He’llberemembered, would be better suited if the heavens opened.
Trainer Henry de Bromhead said: ‘‘He ran well when third in the Grand Sefton and it’s the same course and distance. The more ease in the ground the better.’’
Tom George believes the Topham’s two-mile-five-furlong distance puts Aintree veteran Big Fella Thanks bang in the frame.
The Slad handler said: ‘‘It’s the first time he’s going to get to run over the National fences over his ideal trip.”