Bluesea Cracker ruled out of Welsh National
CORK trainer James Motherway has been forced to rule Bluesea Cracker out of Saturday's rearranged Coral Welsh National at Chepstow.
Last season's Irish Grand National winner had been third-favourite with the sponsors at 9/1 following a decent run behind Midnight Chase at Cheltenham in November.
However, the nine-year-old mare knocked herself when walking in the sea near Motherway's yard last week and the injury has not settled down in time for her to take her chance.
"Unfortunately last Thursday morning she was having a little bit of exercise on the beach nearby and she just took a false step in the water and knocked into her front joint," said Motherway.
"It's not going to rectify itself in time for the weekend. I've just had a consultation with my vet who checked it again and he's not happy with it so we've had to draw a line through it, unfortunately.
"If the race had been run on its correct date (December 27) she'd have been there. It's unfortunate and the owners and myself are all disappointed, but that's racing. It's nothing serious but it's enough to put us out of Saturday's race.
"She loves it soft so it looked the ideal race for her. I've nothing concrete in the pipeline and I'll just see how this joint settles down over the next week or two."
Lucinda Russell's grey Silver By Nature will have to carry top weight following his victory in a valuable event at Haydock last season.
Last year's winner Dream Alliance is next in the list for Philip Hobbs, but he has been pulled up in his last three races.
Tony McCoy's expected mount, ante-post favourite Synchronised, will aim to give the perennial champion jockey his first win in the race.
The Welsh National is the only one of the four Nationals McCoy has yet to win. The Antrim native landed the Aintree version at the 15th attempt last April on Don't Push It. He won the Scottish version on Belmont King in 1997, and Butler's Cabin won the Irish National 10 years later.
Paul Nicholls' novice Watamu Bay is another high up in the weights, while teenagers Eric's Charm, Hello Bud and Knowhere are still engaged. Exmoor Ranger, Summery Justice and Maktu are others to note.
Noel Meade has withdrawn Pandorama, while Willie Mullins could still be represented by the JP McManus-owned Arbor Supreme.
Meanwhile, Nicholls has a strong hand again as he looks for his fourth consecutive win in the Tolworth Novices' Hurdle at Sandown on Saturday.
The champion trainer has won the last three renewals of the Grade One contest with Noland, Silverburn and Breedsbreeze, the last two years having been abandoned.
This season Nicholls has entered his exciting juvenile Sam Winner, although he is expected to run at Chepstow, and easy Haydock scorer Toubab.
Nicky Henderson has two interesting entries in Gibb River, which won on the bridle at Plumpton on Sunday, and Minella Class, a winner on his debut for the yard at Newbury.
That day he beat a smart former Flat performer in Red Merlin, which was making his debut for Donald McCain, and the pair could clash again.
McCain has also entered Drill Sergeant, easily brushed aside by Toubab last time out, while Gary Moore could run Megastar.
Coral Welsh National -- sponsors bet: 11/2 Synchronised; 8/1 Maktu; 12/1 Dance Island, Dream Alliance, Watamu Bay, Summery Justice; 14/1 Silver By Nature; 16/1 Exmoor Ranger, Hello Bud, Master Overseer; 20/1 Arbor Supreme, I'moncloudnine; 25/1 bar.