Monkerhostin tops Grand National weights

Monkerhostin has been allocated top-weight of 11st 12lb for the John Smith’s Grand National by senior British Horseracing Board jumps handicapper Phil Smith.

The Philip Hobbs-trained nine-year-old is followed in the weights by the first two home in the 2005 Aintree showpiece, Hedgehunter and Royal Auclair, on 11st 10lb.

This means a rise of 9lb compared to the weight Hedgehunter carried to a hugely-impressive 14-length victory last season.

There are 85 horses in the handicap proper compared to a record 92 last year.

Aintree legend Ginger McCain, who is due to retire this spring, is set to have two runners – Ebony Light (10st 8lb) and the 2004 winner Amberleigh House (10st 7lb).

Clan Royal, runner-up in 2004 and carried out by a loose horse when in the lead at Becher’s second time around 12 months later, has been given 10st 8lb and Jonjo O’Neill’s charge is sure to be one of the favourites for the £700,000 highlight, which has a safety limit of 40.

Martin Pipe, who entered 22 horses, has nine within the top 40 – Therealbandit (11st 7lb), Joaaci (11st 6lb), last year’s fourth It Takes Time (11st 6lb), Comply Or Die (11st 2lb), Celtic Son (10st 12lb), Seebald (10st 11lb), Whispered Secret (10st 10lb), Puntal (10st 10lb) and Garde D’Estruval (10st 9lb).

His great rival Paul Nicholls, who is currently leading this season’s trainers’ championship, has six within the safety limit.

As well as Royal Auclair, he has Cornish Rebel (11st 7lb), Le Roi Miguel (11st 5lb), Eurotrek (11st 2lb), Silver Birch (10st 10lb) and Le Duc (10st 8lb).

Hobbs, in addition to Monkerhostin, has another three guaranteed a run, namely One Knight (11st 7lb), Lacdoudal (11st 3lb) and Double Honour (10st 8lb).

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