GORDON ELLIOTT appears determined to secure a third Grand National prize, with the trainer responsible for 22 of the 112 entries announced yesterday for the most valuable jumps race in the world.
Elliott triumphed at Aintree last year with Tiger Roll, his second National success after Silver Birch in 2007.
Tiger Roll is a best-priced 25/1 joint-favourite to become the first horse since the legendary Red Rum to win back-to-back renewals in April.
Last year’s race featured a thrilling Irish-dominated finish and runner-up Pleasant Company, who was beaten by just a head by Tiger Roll, is one of ten contenders for Willie Mullins.
The most successful current British trainer in the National is Nigel Twiston-Davies, who has won the great race twice courtesy of Earth Summit (1998) and Bindaree (2002).
Twiston-Davies has nine entries this year — more than any other British handler — including last Saturday’s Sky Bet Chase winner Go Conquer, Bristol De Mai, Blaklion and Ballyoptic.
He said: ‘Go Conquer came out of the Sky Bet Chase well. It was a really good performance at Doncaster and we have always thought a lot of him. Go Conquer jumps and stays well.’
Colin Tizzard has five entries at this stage with his quintet including Welsh Grand National victor Elegant Escape, who is disputing favouritism.
Weights for the Grand National are unveiled at the Cunard Building in Liverpool on February 12.
Tip of the day
Deansgate, 6.25, Newcastle
■ 83 — Age of trainer Cliff Lines, best known as Shergar’s work-rider in the early 1980s, who retired yesterday with a winner at Lingfield with his final runner
■ 13 — Entries for the Betfair Ascot Chase next month, with Ruth Jefferson’s Waiting Patiently favourite to follow up last year’s victory in the Grade One contest
■ TODAY’S jumps meetings at Wincanton and Fakenham are under threat because of the freezing temperatures, with morning inspections planned at both tracks. Wincanton will hold a precautionary check at 8am while Fakenham will assess at 7am. Yesterday’s cards at Plumpton and Leicester were both called off.
■ JESSICA HARRINGTON is praying the rain arrives soon as she attempts to bring Sizing John back to the track ahead of a possible bid to regain his crown in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Sizing John has not raced since December 2017 and Harrington (pictured) said: ‘It’s not that I want soft ground, I just want to see the word “soft” in the going description.’
■ NICKY RICHARDS is looking forward to another Irish jaunt with Simply Ned, who runs in Saturday’s Ladbrokes Dublin Chase at Leopardstown. ‘Everyone knows he’s a veteran now but he’s a hardy, tough old horse,’ the trainer said.