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Shark says Alfa Beat under Aintree radar

SHARK Hanlon believes Alfa Beat could be the forgotten horse in the John Smith's Grand National.

Twice a winner of the Kerry National, the eight-year-old has only been seen twice since winning the second of those in September.

He failed to complete at Leopardstown and Fairyhouse, but Hanlon has valid excuses.

"My horses were out of form for a large part of the season," he said.

"But I had a point-to-point winner yesterday so I'm getting a bit of confidence back. I've booked Davy Russell, which is a bonus, as he's won on him before and as long as the ground is good he'll run a big race.

"At Leopardstown a horse came across him and clipped heels which gave him no chance, and the last day because my horses were running badly I told Andrew (McNamara) to pull him up if he wasn't going to win as it was bad ground and he hates it so he didn't have a hard race.

"Not many horses win two Kerry Nationals and he'll stay as he was fourth in the four-miler at Cheltenham

"He worked lovely on Saturday and he'll do another bit this week.

"Fingers crossed he runs a nice race but you need that luck."

Betfred have Synchronised as their 8-1 favourite, the Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, in this Saturday's contest. A total of 48 horses remain in the race at the five-day stage.

The money continues to come for Synchronised and he looks certain to go off favourite, according to Betfred's George Primarolo.

"Synchronised looks all set to attempt to become the first horse since Golden Miller in 1934 to win the Gold Cup and Grand National in the same year and he'll surely go off favourite should connections give him the go-ahead," said Primarolo.

Following overnight rain in the area the going on the Grand National course changed to soft, good to soft in places.

Hanlon's promising novice chaser Hidden Cyclone, meanwhile, has been put away for the season. The seven-year-old was beaten only narrowly by ante-post Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite Sir Des Champs when last seen in action in a Grade Two at Leopardstown.

Richard Hughes has confirmed he will appeal the decision of the British Horseracing Authority to uphold the 50-day ban he was served while riding in India.

Hughes was suspended in February having been found guilty of "not following the trainer's specific instructions and thereby not allowing his mount Jacqueline Smile to run on its merits".

A similar breach in Britain attracts a ban of seven to 21 days, with an entry point of 10 days.

The ban rules him out of action until April 30, hitting his chances of claiming a first jockeys' title.