Leading hopes stand Grand National ground at Aintree

Leading hopes stand Grand National ground at Aintree

Ante-post favourite Shutthefrontdoor is one of 65 horses still in contention for the Crabbie’s Grand National at Aintree on Saturday following the confirmation stage.

Despite having been off the track since winning at Carlisle in November, Jonjo O’Neill’s eight-year-old looks set to go off a warm order for the world’s most famous steeplechase as he bids to give legendary jockey Tony McCoy a second Grand National triumph before his retirement.

Last year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Lord Windermere remains at the head of the weights for trainer Jim Culloty, who is also set to run Spring Heeled.

Rocky Creek is the major hope among four contenders for champion trainer Paul Nicholls.

The Ditcheat handler is also set to run Unioniste, Rebel Rebellion and Mon Parrain, but has decided against running Benvolio.

He could join Sam Winner in the Scottish National later in the month.

Nicholls said on Twitter: “Benvolio is going to miss Aintree this year and go to Ayr for Scottish GN on the 18th if the ground is soft enough.”

Nicky Henderson will not have a runner in the Aintree spectacular after confirming Hadrian’s Approach would miss the race and the rest of the season.

He said: “Hadrian’s Approach will not run in the National as he has a leg injury and unfortunately he’ll miss Ayr (Scottish National) as well, so I’ll have to pull up for the season with him.”

Major contenders still in the mix include last year’s one-two Pineau De Re and Balthazar King and Cheltenham Festival winners The Druids Nephew and Cause Of Causes.

The last horse now guaranteed a run in the 40-strong field is Royale Knight, ahead of Baileys Concerto and Duke Of Lucca on the same weight of 10st 2lb.

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