The worlds greatest steeplechase The Grand National is still over two months away and the weights have still yet to be released but the entries have been published so despite the fact a lot can happen between now and April 6th but here is a analysis of some of the most notable entires for this years race
TIDAL BAY - The highest rated horse entered in this years race who has run in the race before back in 2010 where he unseated his rider at a early stage but he has since been transferred to the stable of Paul Nicholls who has unlocked the potential that he always promised culminating with a thrilling win in the Lexus Chase at Christmas and a very impressive win under top weight to win the Bet365 Gold Cup back in April. The chances are he will be allocated top weight but in recent years Neptune Collonges and Don't Push It have demonstrated that a big weight is no longer the huge burden as it has been in the past and with the horse at the peak of his powers despite being a 12yo he must if given the green light to run head to Aintree with a favourites chance.
ON HIS OWN - Was travelling extremely strongly when coming to grief at Bechers Brook on the second circuit in last years race and before that was a impressive winner of the Thyestes Chase in Ireland on only his second start for Willie Mullins. Doubtful we will see him on the track until the weights are released to protect his handicap mark and as long as last years experience hasn't frightened him that is always a nagging worry he must be a leading contender.
PRINCE DE BEAUCHENE - Lightly raced 10yo who was ante post favourite for last years race after a very easy win in the Bobbyjo Chase before sustaining a injury that prevented him for making the line up. Has since returned to the track with a comfortable win over hurdles and wont be seen over fences like his stable mate On His Own until the weights are released. Connections think highly enough of him to have him entered in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and he will likely be given a favourable weight to carry so will almost certainly be among the favourites come the big day.
SUNNYHILLBOY - Came agonisingly close to winning last years Grand National when being pipped on the post by Neptune Collonges with nothing more than a nostril separating the pair. Before that gallant effort he won the Kim Muir Chase at The Cheltenham Festival, he has also been placed in The Irish National in the past. He has been limbering up for this years race with a couple of spins over hurdles running with credit at Haydock before pulling up at Warwick last time out. Will appreciate a return to fences once the weights have been published and must be nailed on run another big race this year.
SEABASS - Put a run of seven straight wins together before running the race of his life to finish 3rd in last years National and in the process giving his rider Katy Walsh the honour of being the first lady to be placed in the race. Hasn't run since and will likely be asked to carry more that the 10-12 he carried last year but took to the fences like a duck to water last year and sure to give another great account of himself.
CAPPA BLEU - Welsh trained gelding who ran with great credit to finish 4th last year but could was perhaps asked to make up too much ground in the latter stages of the race after being given a waiting ride by his jockey Paul Maloney who surely will ride him closer to the pace this year. Only had one run so far this season when second in unsuitable heavy ground at Carlisle. Trainer has given the horse numerous entries recently but waiting for some better ground before allowing him to run and given decent ground at Aintree he is more than capable of matching if not bettering last years performance.
IMPERIAL COMMANDER - 2010 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner who after almost two years of the track returned to the scene of his greatest triumph to narrowly be denied a fairytale comeback win in last weeks Argento Chase. Brilliant jumper of fences and always a strong traveller who has always looked a ideal Grand National type but connections keen for a repeat Gold Cup bid so at this stage but if given the green light to run at Aintree would be one of the classiest horses in recent years to run in the race and would have the opportunity to put his name alongside greats such as Golden Miller and L'Escargot as the only horses to have won both The Gold Cup and Grand National.
BESHABAR - Has been off the track since suffering a injury when running with great credit to finish 5th in the 2011 Hennessy Gold Cup after previously winning the Scottish Grand National earlier that year and finishing runner up in the 4m NH Chase at The Cheltenham Festival so has all the credentials you could wish for in a potential Grand National candidate but his fitness will have to be taken on trust as not due to run until the big day.
TEAFORFREE - Capped a successful novice chasing campaign last season with victory in the 4m NH Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. After two encouraging warm up races earlier in the season including a very good 6th behind several leading Gold Cup contenders in the Hennessy he only narrowly failed to hold of the Paul Carberry inspired Monbeg Dude in the Welsh National giving the winner stacks of weight. Excellent jumper and strong travelling type who has all the credentials of a potential Grand National winner.
The latest odds along with other statistics for the big day can be found here http://www.grand-national.me.uk