Hedgehunter heads National hopefuls

Last year’s John Smith’s Grand National hero Hedgehunter tops 84 horses left in Saturday’s Aintree feature at the five-day stage.

Last year’s John Smith’s Grand National hero Hedgehunter tops 84 horses left in Saturday’s Aintree feature at the five-day stage.

Willie Mullins’ 10-year-old was last seen when finishing second to War Of Attrition in the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup and he is set to shoulder joint top-weight of 11st 12lb along with 2005 runner-up Royal Auclair.

Clan Royal, unlucky 12 months ago when carried out at Becher’s on the second circuit, stands his ground for trainer Jonjo O’Neill, while Innox could also represent his owner JP McManus.

Numbersixvalverde, general third-favourite for the four-and-a-half-mile marathon, has been left in by trainer Martin Brassil, while the Ted Walsh-trained Jack High is another possible Irish raider.

Aintree legend Ginger McCain has 2004 winner Amberleigh House, Inca Trail and Ebony Light as he bids for a glorious swansong to his training career.

Both Martin Pipe and Paul Nicholls will be mob-handed.

Nicholls’ squad includes Royal Auclair, Cornish Rebel, Le Roi Miguel, Eurotrek, Silver Birch, Le Duc and Heros Collonges, all of whom are guaranteed a run.

Pipe, who won the race with Miinnehoma in 1994, has five in the top 40 - Therealbandit, It Takes Time, Whispered Secret, Puntal and Iznogoud.

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