Geraghty ponders his 'Grand' choice
Last year's Grand National runner-up, The Last Samuri, is set to carry top weight in Saturday's Aintree showpiece after John Kiely's Carlingford Lough, the only horse higher in the handicap, was one of six taken out at yesterday's five-day stage.
It leaves David Pipe's stable companions La Vaticane and Doctor Harper, both on 10st 6lb, vying for the 40th and final slot in the field, and now leaves Barry Geraghty with "a tricky choice" as he ponders between the JP McManus-owned pair of More Of That and Cause Of Causes.
The Meath rider, who only returned from injury on Sunday, is likely to delay his decision until as late as possible.
Though McManus could also be represented by the Charlie Longsdon-trained Pendra and Anthony Honeyball's Regal Encore in the big race, Geraghty has narrowed down his choice to two.
The Jonjo O'Neill-trained More Of That was sixth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, while Gordon Elliott's Cause Of Causes won the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase at the Festival.
"I'm none the wiser at the minute. I've sat on both horses." Geraghty told At The Races. "I rode Cause Of Causes work last week and he felt well. I schooled More Of That on Friday and that went well, too. Both are in good shape. You can make a very good case for both horses."
The jockeys who have ridden the past three winners between them, Leighton Aspell (Pineau De Re and Many Clouds) and David Mullins (Rule The World), have both secured mounts.
Aspell will team up with Jim Culloty's Lord Windermere, which has not won since the 2014 Gold Cup. "I'm hoping that decent ground will bring an improvement in his recent form," said Aspell. "I've never sat on him but I've seen him plenty and he's run decent races this winter but has struggled on the ground."
The 11-year-old's best effort this season was a head defeat by Champagne Fever in November - on the best ground he has encountered.
Mullins, who won on his first attempt at the race 12 months ago, will ride Stellar Notion for Henry de Bromhead.
"The one difference between this horse and Rule The World is that this lad has actually won a steeplechase!" he said, referring to his National winner's previous maiden status over fences. "Both come into the race with similar profiles. He's been running well in big handicaps without winning."
Having complained about the weight allotted to three of his original entries and taken them out in protest, Michael O'Leary still looks like having five runners.
Bryan Cooper, who rejected last year's winner Rule The World, has been pencilled in for last year's Irish National winner, Rogue Angel. Thunder And Roses, Wounded Warrior, Measureofmydreams and Roi Des Francs are the other representatives. (© Daily Telegraph, London)