Grand National 2018
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Carlingford Lough withdrawn at latest entry stage

Only 74 horses remain in Grand National after today’s latest defection stage with joint-top weight Carlingford Lough being one of those withdrawn which left Lord Windermere as clear top weight.

The shortest price withdrawal was the Tony Martin-trained Living Next Door who had won the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas when beating Foxrock.

The other withdrawn horses were Boston Bob, Alderwood, Rolling Aces, Shotgun Paddy, Theatrical Star, Roi Du Mee, Katenko, Make A Track, Prince De Beauchene, Cedre Bleu and Buddy Bolero.

Fergal O’Brien’s representative Alvarado is now guaranteed a run as he is number 40 on the list. David Pipe’s trio of Soll (49), The Package (52) and Broadway Buffalo (53) need a couple above them to come out so they make the cut.

Shutthefrontdoor pleases connections in racecourse gallop
Leading Grand National fancy Shutthefrontdoor was put through his paces earlier today by Tony McCoy at Southwell. The market leader and McCoy’s likely final ride in the race jumped eight fences at a steady tempo with stable companion Merry King ridden by Richie McLernon who also heads to Aintree. Trainer Jonjo O’Neill was happy with the pair and will be happier if the conditions remain similar come April 11th.

O’Neill added on Shutthefrontdoor: “We thought about taking him to Cheltenham but decided against it but he is not a hard horse to get ready – he is clean-winded – and we are where we want him to be.”

Lavelle excited about Court By Surprise
After seventeen seasons with a licence, trainer Emma Lavelle is finally having her first runner in the Grand National with Court By Surprise who pleased her in a racecourse gallop at Newbury over the weekend.

The horse has been deliberately given a mid-winter break to avoid testing ground and Lavelle is hoping he will peak on the day.

Lavelle said: “I wanted to get a run into him a couple of weeks ago but I didn’t want to run him when the ground was so soft, so we decided to go with a racecourse gallop instead.”

She also added: “He’s an uncomplicated horse. He can race at the front, in the middle or out the back, he’s not fussed about that. He’s not a horse who gets overawed, he’s quite a solid horse, mentally.”