Tony McCoy’s ride in the Crabbie’s Grand National appears to be down to a potential two after the weights were announced for what looks an incredibly open renewal.
The official bookmakers Betfred were offering all the 114 entries at upwards of 20-1, and whichever the record-breaking champion jockey chooses will be a far shorter price by April 5.
McCoy’s boss JP McManus owns 11 of the possible runners as the combination bid to repeat the Aintree success of Don’t Push It in 2010, and the owner’s racing manager Frank Berry said: “They are all well at the moment and let’s hope they get there in one piece.
“I fancied Colbert Station (11st) when AP rode him last year on decent ground but he forgot to take off at The Chair.
“I’d say (what McCoy rides) will be a toss-up between Colbert Station and Double Seven (10st 11lb), who has won his last five.
“Carlingford Lough (10st 13lb) is entered but I’d say it will be a year too soon for him and he’ll be in one of the novices at Cheltenham.”
Colbert Station is trained by former Grand National-winning trainer Ted Walsh along with 2012 third Seabass (11st 2lb), while Double Seven is also trainer by another former Aintree conqueror in Martin Brassil.
Brassil said: “I was probably expecting something between 10st 10lb and 11st, but that’s what I thought he might get off his mark.
“At least we know we will get a run and it’s great to have a horse good enough for the race. He is a spring/summer horse, but he’s fit as we can have him in this wet weather.
“Hopefully we’ll try to get a race into him beforehand in mid-March and there’s a chance he might come to Cheltenham for the four-miler.”
The National is about the only event missing from champion trainer Nicky Henderson’s CV and former Gold Cup winner Long Run was given 11st 9lb, which is just 1lb behind the top-weight Tidal Bay.
He has the Hennessy hero Triolo D’Alene on 11st 6lb, which is 1lb lower than his fascinating new recruit Hunt Ball.
“After he ran in the King George on Boxing Day, Robert (Waley-Cohen, owner) and I had to conclude Long Run probably wasn’t a Gold Cup horse now,” said Henderson.
“I’m very pro the whole idea (of the National) so he’ll go to Kelso on Thursday (Ivan Straker Memorial Chase) and we’ll take it from there.
“Barry Geraghty begged me not to run Triolo D’Alene in the Hennessy to protect his weight for the National. We’re penalised a bit now but he’s got his weight and he probably deserves it.
“Hunt Ball is in two races at Ascot at the weekend and he’ll run in one of those first.”
Those two events, the Weatherbys Hamilton Insurance Chase and Betfair Ascot Chase are also options for last year’s National third Teaforthree (10st 12lb).
Tidal Bay is one of seven entries for Paul Nicholls and he expects the former Lexus winner, who was second in last weekend’s Irish Hennessy to be more than competitive.
The 13-year-old missed his chance in 2013 due to a setback.
“It must be his OAP allowance,” Nicholls said of Tidal Bay’s 11st 10lb.
“He must have a chance as he’s 2lb lower than than his mark for finishing third in the Welsh National.
“I decided to take him out of the Gold Cup as you’d have to train him for the Gold Cup and I’d rather keep him fresh for Aintree.
“Rocky Creek (11st 5lb) would be 50-50 to run, I think he might just go for the Gold Cup instead.”