By Simon Jackson.
A total of 87 horses remain in contention for a place in the final field of the maximum 40 runners permitted in the £1million Crabbie’s Grand National at Aintree on Saturday.
The five-day confirmation stage on Monday saw the number of horses going forward reduced by nine for the world’s greatest steeplechase, where the final field will be revealed on Thursday morning.
This year’s contenders are headed by 2015 winner Many Clouds, who heads the betting at 8-1 (Betfred) from The Last Samuri (10-1) and Silviniaco Conti (12-1).
“Whilst Many Clouds is a firm ante-post market-leader and fully expected to go off favourite, there’s no shortage of punters happy to take him on at the prices,” Betfred spokesman Andrew Griffiths said.
“The Last Samuri is particularly popular, but the most eye-catching support has come in for Gallant Oscar.
“We laid our biggest individual bet on the McManus horse [Gallant Oscar] and he looks a prime candidate to shorten further this week.”
In other news, the going description for the Grand National Course is now Good to Soft, Soft in places after a dry day on Monday, but Andrew Tulloch, regional head of racing Jockey Club Racecourses north west and clerk of the course at Aintree, anticipates unsettled weather ahead of racing on Saturday.
“We had seven millimetres of rain overnight but it has been a nice drying day and I have changed the going on the Grand National Course,” Tulloch said on Monday.
“It remains Good to Soft on the Mildmay Course and Good to Soft, Soft in places in the home straight on the Hurdle Course.
“We should have another dry day tomorrow (Tuesday), but there is rain forecast on Wednesday, while the weather is likely to be unsettled during the three days of the meeting.
“Temperatures will be around 11 to 12 Celsius. The courses are in good nick and we will be racing on the outer configurations on Grand Opening Day (Thursday) so as to have fresh ground for later in the week.”
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