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Grand National attracts highest entry for five years

| 30.01.2014

The Crabbie’s Grand National has attracted a high quality list of entries including 2011 Gold Cup winner Long Run and last year’s Lexus Chase winner Tidal Bay. Last year’s winner Aurora’s Encore has been retired after fracturing a leg at home but the 2012 runner-up Sunnyhillboy could be back for another attempt.

Aurora’s Encore pulled off a 66-1 shock for Sue Smith and Ryan Mania and is now recuperating at home after having screws inserted in his off-fore. The injury occurred during last Saturday’s Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster.

The winner of that race, The Rainbow Hunter, has been entered for the National by trainer Kim Bailey who won with Mr Frisk in 1990. Nicky Henderson, yet to win the race, has five entries including Hennessy Gold Cup winner Triolo D’Alene and former Gold Cup and two-time King George winner Long Run.

Paul Nicholls has entered seven in total with the standout names being Argento Chase runner-up Rocky Creek and likely top-weight Tidal Bay. Nicholls felt that Rocky Creek probably just needed the race on Saturday when beaten by The Giant Bolster.

Tidal Bay, the winner of the Arkle Trophy back in 2008, was due to run in the National last year but met with a training setback. The thirteen-year-old showed that he is not yet ready for his pension book when a close third in the Welsh National in December.

Chepstow winner Mountainous has been given an entry along with last year’s Scottish National winner Godsmejudge. Alan King’s runner disappointed when pulled up last time out but may have been feeling the effects of a mystery virus.

Seabass, third under Katie Walsh in 2012 but only thirteenth when favourite last year, could also be back again this year. Last year’s Welsh National winner Monbeg Dude won impressively at Cheltenham last time out and is being aimed at the Aintree marathon this year.

Rebecca Curtis went close with Teaforthree 12 months ago and the gelding is expected to line up on 5th April. He weakened in the heavy ground at Chepstow last time out but ran a terrific race last year when leading 2 out before eventually finishing third.

Irish trainer Willie Mullins has entered eight horses including recent Thyestes Chase winner On His Own and Cleeve Hurdle disappointment Boston Bob. The weights for the race which attracts a worldwide audience estimated at 600 million will be announced on February 11th.

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Harvey Mayson