Massive National pot draws 115 entries

Updated: Wednesday, 29 Jan 2014 16:04

A total of 115 entries, the highest since 2009, have been attracted to the first £1million Crabbie's Grand National at Aintree on 5 April.

Willie Mullins, successful with Hedgehunter in 2005, has eight possibles including the Graham Wylie-owned trio of On His Own, Prince De Beauchene and Boston Bob.

The other members of the County Carlow handler's team are Leopardstown Paddy Power Chase winner Rockyaboya, Up The Beat, Vesper Bell, last season's Irish Grand National runner-up Away We Go and Quel Esprit.

Fellow Irish trainer Martin Brassil, who struck with Numbersixvalverde in 2006, could be represented in this year's showpiece by Double Seven, who was last seen completing a five-timer at Wexford in October.

The JP McManus-owned eight-year-old recorded a two-length verdict over Spring Heeled in the Munster National over three miles at Limerick earlier the same month.

Brassil said: "Double Seven has got a rating now that means he will be running in either a Crabbie's Grand National or an Irish Grand National come the spring. It's an obvious entry to make for a horse rated 146.

"He had a break for about six weeks after Wexford and is back in training now getting ready for a spring campaign. I think the good ground and fine weather we had over the summer helped him. We also put cheekpieces on and they seem to have also made a difference.

"The Grand National is probably not as much as a jumping test now as it was when Numbersixvalverde won, but Double Seven is a grand jumper.

"He has won over two miles, two and a half miles and three miles, always finishing strongly. He will give himself every chance of staying, but it's about getting around and keeping out of trouble.

"He is in the four-miler at Cheltenham, but I don't know where he will run next. A bit of good ground might tempt me to run him before Aintree."

Only two of the first six home last year have entries this time - the third Teaforthree, trained by Rebecca Curtis, and the sixth, David Pipe's Swing Bill, owned by Halewood International, parent company of Crabbie's.

With last year's 66-1 winner Auroras Encore retired through injury, trainer Sue Smith relies on Mr Moonshine and Vintage Star.

Paul Nicholls secured his first National with Neptune Collonges in 2012 and has seven entries this year, headed by the 13-year-old Tidal Bay.

The Ditcheat trainer is also responsible for Welsh Grand National runner-up Hawkes Point, There's No Panic, Rocky Creek, Kauto Stone, Mon Parrain and Sire Collonges.

Jonjo O'Neill, successful with Don't Push It for principal patron McManus in 2010, has also made seven entries, headed by the same owner's Sunnyhillboy, beaten a nose by Neptune Collonges in 2012, Alfie Sherrin, Merry King, Burton Port, Lost Glory, Storm Survivor and Twirling Magnet.

Pipe, who sent out Comply Or Die to win in 2008, has six engaged with Swing Bill joined by Standing Ovation, Our Father, Goulanes, Junior and The Package.

Triolo D'Alene, winner of last year's Topham Chase over the famous fences, could represent  champion trainer Nicky Henderson, who has yet to win the race. The Lambourn handler has also entered 2011 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Long Run, Hunt Ball, Shakalakaboomboom and Quantitativeeasing.

Other notable entries include Welsh Grand National winner Monbeg Dude, trained by Michael Scudamore, Scottish Grand National scorer Godsmejudge from the Alan King yard and Kim Muir Challenge Cup winner Same Difference, trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies.

The latter has been on the roll of honour twice, with Earth Summit (1998) and Bindaree (2002).

Leading hunter chaser Mossey Joe, now trained by Enda Bolger, has been entered after being purchased by Barry Connell.

RTÉ pundit Ted Walsh, successful with Papillon in 2000, could be represented by Colbert Station and Seabass, who was third in 2012.

The weights will be revealed in London on 11 February.

Andrew Tulloch, Aintree's clerk of the course and director of racing, said: "We are thrilled with both the quality and quantity of entries for the 2014 Crabbie's Grand National, which with a prize fund of £1million is easily the richest jump race ever run outside of Japan.”