Last year’s winner Tiger Roll features among 69 horses left in Saturday’s Randox Health Grand National at Aintree following the confirmation stage.
Gordon Elliott’s popular nine-year-old is on course to attempt to emulate Red Rum in 1974 by completing back-to-back victories in the world’s greatest steeplechase.
Tiger Roll could go off one of the shortest-priced favourites in the race’s history following a second successive triumph in the Glenfarclas Chase at Cheltenham last month.
Elliott has also left in Outlander, Don Poli, Mala Beach, Dounikos, A Toi Phil, Jury Duty, Noble Endeavor, Monbeg Notorious, Blow By Blow, General Principle, Folsom Blue, Bless The Wings, Out Sam, Borice and Measureofmydreams.
Tiger Roll will now have to carry 11st 5lb after the weights were raised 4lb following the defection of Bristol De Mai.
Heading the handicap is the Tony Martin-trained Anibale Fly, who was fourth last year and finished second in the Cheltenham Gold Cup on his latest start.
Pleasant Company, who failed by only a head to claw back Tiger Roll last year, is among six remaining from the Willie Mullins stable.
Also in the Irish champion trainer’s team are Rathvinden, Pairofbrowneyes, Up For Review, Livelovelaugh and Isleofhopendreams.
Other Irish possibles include Pat Kelly’s Mall Dini and Jessica Harrington’s Magic Of Light and Sandymount Duke.
Heading the home contingent are a pair of greys, the Nick Alexander-trained Lake View Lad and Sue Smith’s Vintage Clouds, both owned by Trevor Hemmings.
Among others in the mix are Lucinda Russell’s 2017 winner One For Arthur, Mark Bradstock’s Step Back, Philip Hobbs’ Rock The Kasbah and the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Go Conquer.
David Pipe’s duo of Ramses De Teillee and Vieux Lion Rouge, dual Topham scorer Ultragold from Colin Tizzard’s stable and Robert Walford’s Walk In The Mill are also in contention. The Becher Chase winner is now guaranteed a run in the maximum 40-strong field.
Pipe confirmed jockey arrangements for his pair on his official website, www.davidpipe.com.
“David Noonan, who has been aboard Ramses De Teillee in all of his starts this season, will ride him in the big race. David has had one ride in the race previously, finishing 11th aboard Ballynagour in 2017,” he said.
“Tom Scudamore will be aboard Vieux Lion Rouge, who will be tackling the contest for the fourth time. He has already won and finished runner-up in the Becher Chase over the unique Aintree fences and has jumped 152 National obstacles with barely a semblance of a mistake.
“Ramses and Vieux Lion Rouge both schooled well over our National style fences last week and are in great form, although they would both appreciate some rain. The weather forecast suggests we may get some – we will just have to wait and see.”
Clerk of the course Andrew Tulloch is anticipating overnight rain, with around 10 millimetres forecast to fall.
He said: “We have had an overcast day, but with a drying wind, so I am calling it good all round on the Mildmay and hurdle courses and good, good to soft in places on the Grand National course.
“There is rain forecast overnight and through into the early part of tomorrow, totalling around 10mm and finishing around mid-morning. I will assess the going after that. We are forecast showery weather during the week. We will assess on each day.
“We are pleased with where we are. We started watering a week ago and there is plenty of moisture there, but I will see where we are in the morning.”