Connections of the Dan Skelton-trained Blaklion will be celebrating after the final declaration stage for Saturday’s Grand National - but Welsh National winner Secret Reprieve’s camp face a nervous wait to see whether he will get a run.
Grade 1 winner The Storyteller, trained by Denise Foster, was the only horse withdrawn from the 40-runner field at Thursday’s 48-hour declaration stage, meaning Blaklion, who had been No41, will get into the race.
The Evan Williams-trained Secret Reprieve, who won the Welsh edition of the race at Chepstow in January, is one of a couple of well-fancied reserves, along with John McConnell’s Some Neck, who will need a late withdrawal to get into the race.
The latter is first reserve - with Secret Reprieve needing two horses to come out - and had been backed from 40-1 into 25-1 ahead of declarations. Kauto Riko and Fagan are third and fourth reserves respectively.
Cloth Cap is the general 4-1 favourite for the Aintree showpiece, with Betfair Chase winner Bristol De Mai set to carry top weight.
After their domination at Cheltenham, the Irish battalion bring a strong team in which Ted Walsh’s Any Second Now is well touted.
Rachael Blackmore enjoyed a dream Festival and aims to top an incredible year on Henry de Bromhead’s Minella Times. The Gold Cup-winning stable is also responsible for Chris’s Dream and Balko Des Flos.
Willie Mullins is without the services of Paul Townend, who suffered an injury at Fairyhouse earlier this week. He is replaced on Burrows Saint by Patrick Mullins.
Danny Mullins rides Acapella Bourgeois, and Brian Hayes is on Class Conti - with Sean O’Keeffe on Cabaret Queen.
Denis O’Regan comes in for the ride on Tony Martin’s Anibale Fly, who has run well in the race twice before and has also twice been placed in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Leading amateur Jamie Codd rides Milan Native, with Sean Flanagan on Tout Est Permis
Last year’s renewal of the National was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic, meaning Saturday’s race will be the first since Tiger Roll secured a second successive victory in 2019.
The five-time Cheltenham Festival winner will not bid for an historic hat-trick, after he was withdrawn from the race last month due to what his owners, Gigginstown House Stud, deemed an unfair handicap mark.
The 11-year-old will instead run in Thursday’s Grade 1 Betway Bowl.
Additional reporting by PA.