Monbeg Dude will not defend his crown in the Coral Welsh National next month after connections decided to focus their attentions on a tilt at the Grand National at Aintree in the spring.

Michael Scudamore's stable star benefited from a fantastic ride from Paul Carberry to win the Chepstow marathon last season and ended his campaign by running in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

He has made a pleasing start to the new season, however, finishing third over hurdles at Cheltenham before running an excellent race to finish fourth in a competitive handicap chase at Prestbury Park last weekend.

While a second Welsh National tilt was discussed, Scudamore feels it might not be the right move with Aintree in mind.

"I had a chat with the owners after Cheltenham the other day and they are keen to have a crack at the Grand National at Aintree," said the trainer.

"We just feel a slog in the mud around Chepstow might not be the ideal preparation for him, so we'll give it a miss this year.

"I'm not sure what route we'll take to Aintree. He might have one or two more runs and we'd like to give him a little break at some stage.

"He's rated 138 now and would have crept in with bottom weight in last year's National off that mark. It would be nice if he could go and run well somewhere and get to 140. I think we'd sleep a little easier then knowing he should get in.

"If he had gone to Chepstow next month and finished in the first two, that might have messed his mark up altogether. If we have a lighter season with him, hopefully we can go to Aintree with a real dream."

Last year's Welsh National runner-up and subsequent Grand National third Teaforthree is among the 88 contenders in the mix for this year's renewal of Chepstow's flagship contest following the initial entry stage.

Teaforthree's Welsh trainer, Rebecca Curtis, has another major contender in Boyfromnowhere.

Emma Lavelle's Highland Lodge heads the betting with the sponsors at 12-1, with David Pipe's Goulanes, the Paul Nicholls-trained Hawkes Point and Willie Mullins' potential challenger Vesper Bell other market principals.