Carlingford Lough and Lord Windermere head the weights for the Crabbie’s Grand National at Aintree on 11 April.
A potential ride for Tony McCoy in what will be his last National, the John Kiely-trained Carlingford Lough has been allotted 11st 10lb by handicapper Phil Smith with a rating of 161, leaving the Irish Hennessy winner 5lb ‘well-in’ compared to his official mark of 166.
Lord Windermere won the Gold Cup at Cheltenham last year and also has 11st 10lb to carry, with his trainer Jim Culloty having another candidate in Spring Heeled (10st 12lb), like his stablemate a winner at the Festival last March.
Irish Grand National hero and ante-post favourite Shutthefrontdoor (11st 2lb) forms part of McCoy’s options, as does Sunnyhillboy (10st 8lb), and is one of three fancies for Jonjo O’Neill together with Merry King (10st 5lb).
Paul Nicholls has seven entries and chief among them is Unioniste in the colours of John Hales, successful with Neptune Collonges in 2012, when he had Sunnyhillboy a nose back in second. The grey has been given 11st 6lb and is 2lb better off than his British Horseracing Authority figure.
Pineau De Re raced to glory for Dr Richard Newland 12 months ago and has 8lb more to carry this year with 11st, while runner-up Balthazar King has 3lb more on 11st 2lb and third home Alvarado 1lb more on 10st 3lb.
Of the 96 possibles, 25 are Irish-trained and one (River Choice) hails from France.
Meanwhile, The Third Man can give trainer Henry Spiller a first success in the 32Red.com Handicap.
This Dalakhani gelding showed glimmers of promise in three outings for John Gosden last year before being snapped up for 23,000 guineas by Spiller at Tattersalls last July.
Given plenty of time by new connections, The Third Man became Spiller’s first runner when lining up at Lingfield last month and he again showed that not all hope is lost.
He completely missed the break that day and raced wide throughout, neither of which would have helped a horse who probably also needed the run after such a long lay off.
Beaten just four and a quarter lengths at the finish, the handicapper has also eased The Third Man by 1lb which only augments his already decent chance.
Coursing has taken a 12lb hike in the ratings since her last outing but still looks a likely winner of the 32Red Handicap at Lingfield. The Kyllachy filly showed nothing as a juvenile last year but has really come into her own now trainer Sir Mark Prescott has equipped her with blinkers this term.
She really impressed when winning by three and a half lengths over six furlongs at Wolverhampton last month before following up under a penalty just under two weeks later.
Coursing showed she is equally capable over five furlongs with that victory and even with her jump in the ratings, she might still have a little in hand of the handicapper.