Saturday 24 March 2018

Hennessy hero Carlingford Lough and Gold Cup champ Lord Windermere top National weights

Tony McCoy riding Carlingford Lough return after winning The Hennessey Gold Cup at Leopardstown
Tony McCoy riding Carlingford Lough return after winning The Hennessey Gold Cup at Leopardstown

Carlingford Lough and Lord Windermere head the weights for the Crabbie's Grand National at Aintree on April 11.

A potential ride for Tony McCoy in what will be his last National, the John Kiely-trained Carlingford Lough has been allotted 11st 10lb by handicapper Phil Smith with a rating of 161, leaving the Irish Hennessy winner 5lb 'well-in' compared to his official mark of 166.

Lord Windermere won the Gold Cup at Cheltenham last year and also has 11st 10lb to carry, with his trainer Jim Culloty having another candidate in Spring Heeled (10st 12lb), like his stablemate a winner at the Festival last March.

Irish Grand National hero and ante-post favourite Shutthefrontdoor (11st 2lb) forms part of McCoy's options, as does Sunnyhillboy (10st 8lb), and is one of three fancies for Jonjo O'Neill together with Merry King (10st 5lb).

Paul Nicholls has seven entries and chief among them is Unioniste in the colours of John Hales, successful with Neptune Collonges in 2012, when he had Sunnyhillboy a nose back in second. The grey has been given 11st 6lb and is 2lb better off than his British Horseracing Authority figure.

Pineau De Re raced to glory for Dr Richard Newland 12 months ago and has 8lb more to carry this year with 11st, while runner-up Balthazar King has 3lb more on 11st 2lb and third home Alvarado 1lb more on 10st 3lb.

Of the 96 possibles, 25 are Irish-trained and one (River Choice) hails from France.

Here's what some of the trainers have been saying:

John Kiely - Carlingford Lough (11st 10lb)

"That's interesting. The owner (JP McManus) and Frank Berry (his racing manager) will decide but I don't think it would be likely he'd run. The Gold Cup is his main aim and the horse is in good form."


Oliver Sherwood - Many Clouds (11st 9lb)

"I haven't had a runner in the National for ages, but 11st 9lb seems fair enough. Whether he's going to run will depend on Cheltenham. I think it will be unlikely unless something happens in the Gold Cup.

"On ratings I thought Many Clouds was the highest-rated horse, so I don't know why he's got 1lb less than the top weight (Carlingford Lough)."


Mouse Morris - First Lieutenant ( 11st 3lb)

"He's only put us up 1lb but those above us seem to be better off, if they run.

"I think he's a real National horse, so he'll definitely go. He's such a good jumper."


Robbie Hennessy - Rubi Light (10st 9lb)

"I couldn't say what the exact plan is at this moment, he could go to Thurles next week and then for a handicap at Cheltenham.

"He'll have an entry in the Topham and we'll make our minds up nearer the time. You never know if they are going to stay that far until you try.

"We've freshened him up and he lives outside now, he's never in a stable, and that seems to suit him. I was happy with him the last day and while he's not as good as he was, he was in no-man's land for a while with his rating but he has a chance again now."


Keith Reveley - Night In Milan (10st 9lb)

"Perfect. As long as one of the top ones stay in we'll stay below 11st and that was the sort of weight I was thinking of, which means James (Reveley) can ride him at a comfortable weight.

"He's in great form at the moment, he'll go for the Grimthorpe a week on Saturday and that gives him a month to recover which is just what he likes between his races.

"Even at nine he could still be improving and while he's not that well handicapped we know he is capable of competing off his mark.

"It's all about having a go, the owner is keen and the game is all about races likes this."


Robert Waley-Cohen - Oscar Time (10st 5lb)

"Obviously Oscar Time at the age of 14 will enjoy having as little weight as possible. He runs in the veterans' chase at Doncaster on Wednesday and that is the only run he's going to have between now and the National.

"He hasn't had a run since the Becher Chase. The intention is just to keep him mentally and physically sharp. He's in very good form."


Neil Mulholland - The Druids Nephew (10st 9lb)

"I'd be very happy with that. It's a nice weight and he's got a month to recover after Cheltenham, so he'll probably run.

"He'll go for the three-mile handicap on the Tuesday and he's in real good order, he might even be stronger.

"He's unexposed at staying trips, he ran a cracker at Cheltenham behind Sam Winner and then the Hennessy came too soon."

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