Lion Na Bearnai in race against time for Aintree
Updated: Tuesday, 19 Mar 2013 13:01
Last year's Irish Grand National hero Lion Na Bearnai faces a race against time to be fit for the John Smith's Grand National at Aintree on 6 April - for which 16 horses were taken out at the latest stage.
Albertas Run, Quito De La Roque, The Package and Alfie Sherrin are among those who will not be running in the famous race.
Lion Na Bearnai's trainer Tom Gibney has had no end of problems with his 11-year-old since his famous victory at Fairyhouse last Easter, and his participation remains in some doubt.
Gibney has targeted the Aintree version this season but one thing after another has hampered him and he has only run once, in the Hennessy at Newbury on December 1.
Gibney, speaking at a press day at his yard this morning to launch this year's Irish National meeting, said: "He's good, he's still heading for Aintree just about, but things have not gone to plan and he's missed a lot of time.
"He's done a couple of bits of work recently and is coming together, but whether we get there I don't know.
"It's been little things, mine were sick in October and we thought he was OK for the Hennessy but it turned out he wasn't so then he needed more time off.
"Then he had trouble with a hind leg, it gives him trouble once a year every year, it's a weak spot. That was before the Bobbyjo which was supposed to be his prep race and then there was a bit of ringworm in the yard. He's had everything bar the plague.
"He's not fully fit and it hasn't been perfect. He's a very fit horse naturally, but I'd say at the minute it's 50-50 whether he makes Aintree.
"We'll make a decision as late as possible. He'll do a couple of bits of work next week and we'll have a good idea the following week."
Roi Du Mee, Midnight Chase, Calgary Bay and Planet Of Sound are some of the others who no longer have the Aintree engagement.
Colm Murphy decided against running Quito De La Roque but a trip to Merseyside could still be on the cards.
Murphy said: "The weights are going to go up and he would end up with nearly top-weight, so he'll probably run in the (Betfred) Bowl on the Thursday of Aintree instead."