Big guns hold sway for National

Past winners Mon Mome (2009) and Comply Or Die (2008) are among a maximum field of 40 declared for the John Smith’s Grand National at Aintree on Saturday.

Past winners Mon Mome (2009) and Comply Or Die (2008) are among a maximum field of 40 declared for the John Smith’s Grand National at Aintree on Saturday.

There was not one withdrawal from the top 40, leaving connections of those horses, such as Whinstone Boy and Chief Dan George, just outside the elite set disappointed.

The Howard Johnson-trained Abbeybraney is the last horse to make the cut.

There are, though, four reserves – 2007 winner Silver Birch, last year’s fifth Cerium, Royal Rosa and Knowhere.

They will fill any gaps should there be any non-runners announced before 9am on Friday.

Silver Birch is, however, also engaged to run in the John Smith’s Topham Chase on Friday.

Mon Mome was a 100-1 stunner 12 months ago when he defeated Comply Or Die by 12 lengths.

The high-class duo will be joined by last year’s respective third, fourth and sixth – My Will, State Of Play and Big Fella Thanks, the ante-post favourite.

Aiming for better luck is Black Apalachi, who fell at Becher’s on the second circuit when in the lead last April.

His trainer Dessie Hughes also runs Vic Venturi who, like Black Apalachi, has triumphed over the fearsome obstacles in the Becher Chase.

Mon Mome’s trainer Venetia Williams has a second string to her bow in Flintoff. The nine-year-old, co-owned by England international cricket star Andrew Flintoff, was re-routed from Monday’s Irish Grand National after being guaranteed a run at Aintree.

Timmy Murphy has stayed loyal to Comply Or Die, leaving Graham Lee, successful on Amberleigh House in 2004, to partner owner David Johnson’s other runner The Package.

Their trainer David Pipe also saddles top-weight Madison Du Berlais, Pablo Du Charmil and Piraya.

Nigel Twiston-Davies has no less than five runners – Beat The Boys, Ballyfitz, Ollie Magern, Irish Raptor and Hello Bud – as he chases a third win in the big race.

Champion trainer Paul Nicholls has yet to taste success in the National and his main hopes are Big Fella Thanks, the mount of stable jockey and two-time National victor Ruby Walsh, and Tricky Trickster.

Last year’s winning jockey Liam Treadwell will be aboard Nozic for Nicholls, who also has My Will.

The Jonjo O’Neill-trained pair of Don’t Push It and Can’t Buy Time, both owned by JP McManus, are also engaged.

McManus additionally has a leading contender in Arbor Supreme, trained by Willie Mullins, whose Snowy Morning is also well regarded.

Top Irish female jockey Nina Carberry has a plum ride in the John Quinn-trained Character Building, recently bought by David and Patricia Thompson, the proprietors of Cheveley Park Stud.

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