Sherrin to skip National after 'hard' Cheltenham
ALFIE SHERRIN was a surprising absentee at the latest forfeit stage for Monday's Ladbrokes Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse.
Jonjo O'Neill's 10-year-old had been a leading fancy for the Easter Monday showpiece since the weights had been released.
Alfie Sherrin is owned by JP McManus and his racing manager Frank Berry explained that a hard race at Cheltenham, where he finished fourth behind Same Difference in the Kim Muir, had left its mark.
"There's nothing major wrong with him, but he just hasn't recovered from Cheltenham," said Berry. "He had a hard race there.
"We have Quiscover Fontaine, Carlingford Lough and Competitive Edge left in at Fairyhouse. Quiscover could well go to Aintree, but the other two will probably run. Competitive Edge has won his last two well, but this is a big step up in class and he's got a big penalty (14lb)."
Other notable absentees include the Willie Mullins-trained duo of Back In Focus and Boston Bob, which endured contrasting fortunes at Cheltenham.
Mullins (right) has also taken out Quel Esprit, leaving Marasonnien and Away We Go as his only possibles.
The David Pipe-trained Junior now resides at the top of the weights, followed by Tony Martin's novice Dedigout. Dedigout is owned by Gigginstown House Stud, who could also run Sweeney Tunes, Carry Each Other, Sea Of Thunder, Magnanimity, Carlito Brigante, Romanesco, Toner D'Oudairies, Start Me Up, Panther Claw and Tillahow.
Competitive Edge, Rich Revival and Jadanli are among those still in contention. There are 51 remaining entries and the maximum field is 30 runners.
Meanwhile, Mullins has confirmed that leading fancy Prince De Beauchene will miss the Aintree Grand National because of injury.
The 10-year-old was around the 12/1 mark for the Aintree showpiece after winning two of his three races this season and finishing second to Roi Du Mee in the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse last time out.
"He had not been striding out for the last few days and, following a bone scan, it has been confirmed he has a minor stress fracture in his ilium," revealed Mullins. "He will require at least six weeks' box rest, so unfortunately he will miss the Aintree Grand National."
Mullins still has ante-post favourite On His Own in the field.
Denis O'Regan has been snapped up by trainer Tom George for the ride on Big Fella Thanks in the big race.
The Irish-born jockey has yet to win the Aintree spectacular, but he went close when second on the Dessie Hughes-trained Black Apalachi behind Don't Push It in 2010.
Big Fella Thanks has got round in three Nationals, finishing fourth, sixth and seventh and was third in the Becher Chase over the famous fences in December.
The 11-year-old also holds an entry in the Topham Chase at the three-day meeting next week, but the National is the favoured target.
Seabass was third 12 months ago and trainer Ted Walsh is expecting another good run, especially as the 10-year-old has coped with his revised mark when third in the Bobbyjo.
Walsh has a good second string to his bow in Colbert Station, owned by JP McManus and a winner of the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas.