96 horses left in Crabbie's Grand National at Aintree
Last Updated: 22/03/16 8:45pm
There are 96 horses going forward for the £1-million Crabbie's Grand National at Aintree following the latest scratchings' stage on Tuesday.
Last year 74 were left in at this stage, while 73 went forward in 2014 and 57 in 2013.
A total of 17 horses dropped out of the world's most famous steeple chase and they included last week's Cheltenham Gold Cup third Don Poli.
His owners Gigginstown House Stud also withdrew Ryanair Chase runner-up Valseur Lido but First Lieutenant, Roi Du Mee, Rule The World and Sir Des Champs are still among those in contention for the powerful owners.
Lord Windermere went two places better than Don Poli when winning the 2014 Gold Cup but he, too, has been scratched from Aintree.
Other notable absentees include Foxrock, Sam Winner and Broadway Buffalo.
A maximum of 40 runners can line up for the 169th running which will be held at the later time of 5.15pm on Saturday, April 9.
Leighton Aspell "would not want to swap" Many Clouds as the rider prepares to make history with a third successive win in the race.
Triumphant on Pineau De Re in 2014, Aspell partnered the Oliver Sherwood-trained Many Clouds to victory 12 months ago and the combination are favourites to become the first since Red Rum to land back-to-back runnings of the Aintree spectacular.
His form was given a major boost when Don Poli was third in the Gold Cup, with Many Clouds having been a four-length second to Willie Mullins' runner at Aintree in December when conceding 5lb to the Irish ace.
Many Clouds was last seen enjoying the perfect prep race at Kelso, and Aspell said: "Oliver has done a great job of training Many Clouds this year. Many Clouds gave 10lb to Cue Card at Wetherby (Charlie Hall Chase) but went there seriously under-cooked and it was a bit of a blip.
"But then to be second to Don Poli, giving 5lb, was a good run and then it was a really good performance against Smad Place - they pulled clear - in the BetBright Chase at Cheltenham and a lovely run around Kelso nine days ago was perfect.
"Many Clouds has always been a very good jumper but it was great to feel the enthusiasm and energy he had at Kelso.
"You don't have to school him very often - he is very, very good - you just give him a pop a few days before he runs. I am sure Oliver is just freshening him up right now. The next week and the following week, we will do something more serious and get him spot on.
"I am not a bit worried about the weight or Many Clouds' condition, he is really tip-top, but at the moment it looks a very strong race. I would not want to swap him."