Trainer Paul Nicholls appears to be going all out in an effort to win his second Grand National at Aintree in just over two weeks time following the success of his Neptune Collonges in 2012. The master of Ditcheat is hoping to send out a squad of six for the Crabbie’s-sponsored marathon headed by Rocky Creek who currently finds only 8-1 chance Shutthefrontdoor, the probable final National ride of champion jockey Tony McCoy, ahead of him in the ante-post market.
A general 10-1 shot, with only Boylesports and Sportingbet going two points bigger, last year’s fifth is likely to be joined by stablemates Unioniste, Sam Winner, Rebel Rebellion, Mon Parrain and Benvolio in the £1 million showpiece for which 74 possibles stood their ground at the second forfeit stage. As things currently stand connections of those horses handicapped below 10st 3lb could find themselves sweating ahead of the final declarations with a maximum field of 40 allowed to compete for the world’s most famous steeplechase.
One entry who needs several to defect in order to make the cut is Royale Knight, the stable companion of the 2014 winner Pineau De Re, of which trainer Dr Richard Newland said: ” Royale Knight is not in the race yet but is getting closer. He’s a super horse but whether he’s up to this grade we don’t know – he’s a bit of an unknown quantity. He’s never taken on horses of this quality before but long-distance races seem to suit him and he’s in good form. We’ll definitely give it a shot if he gets in.”
Hopefully the nine-year-old will make the final line-up on Saturday 11th April as the King’s Theatre gelding was selected as our ante-post tip for the great race at 40-1 after the weights were revealed and is now a general 25-1 chance, although 33-1 is still available with Ladbrokes.