Last year’s winner Tiger Roll headlines a total of 100 horses remaining in the Randox Health Grand National at Aintree on April 6.
Gordon Elliott’s star defeated the Willie Mullins-trained Pleasant Company and is on course to become the first back-to-back National hero since the great Red Rum, who was successful in 1973, 1974 and 1977.
The nine-year-old Tiger Roll showed his wellbeing when winning the Boyne Hurdle at Navan earlier this month, and is set to head to Cheltenham next month to defend his cross-country crown, for what would be a fourth win at the Festival.
Phil Kirby’s new arrival Blaklion is another to stand his ground at the latest forfeit stage, as connections consider plans for a prep run.
Bought privately out of Nigel Twiston-Davies’ yard, the 10-year-old holds options at the Cheltenham Festival — but the dry spell could mean he skips the big meeting, where he won the RSA Chase as a novice in 2016.
Brought down at the first in the National last year, he was fourth the season before to One For Arthur and Aintree is the aim once again.
“Blaklion has been great since arriving at the yard — he seems very straightforward,” said North Yorkshire-based Kirby.
“We have not done any fast work with him, but all of his steady work has been great and he seems very happy with himself.
“We are going to finalise a plan over the coming days. He has entries at Cheltenham, but, although nothing is certain at this stage, I would probably say he won’t go given the way the ground is going to be.
“He looks fairly handicapped for the Grand National and is entitled to go there with a fair chance.”
Along with Tiger Roll, recent Bobbyjo Chase winner Rathvinden and Colin Tizzard’s Welsh National hero Elegant Escape currently head the betting.
Ten horses were taken out, including Missed Approach, The Dutchman, Auvergnat, Rogue Angel, Acapella Bourgeois and Ballyarthur.