Grand National: Bishops Road first reserve as top 40 stand their ground

Grand National fences

A field of 40 will tackle the Grand National fences on Saturday

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (  

THE top 40 in the Crabbie’s Grand National all stood firm at the final declaration stage, meaning that several high-profile entrants, including Betfred Grand National Trial winner Bishops Road, will miss out on a run.

Bishops Road will take the role of first reserve. He, then Knock House, Perfect Candidate and Maggio, could yet find a place should any of the declared field be withdrawn before 1.00pm on Friday.

Carol Lee, mother of trainer Kerry, said: “We thought we would get in. It is amazing that all 40 have stood their ground but it shows the popularity of the race and owners and trainers wanting to win it with the huge prize-money making it more attractive.

“It is disappointing. Bishops Road was bought to run in the National as his owner Alan Halsall is a director at Aintree and would love to have a runner,” she added.

“We are still hoping and will give the horse the best possible chance of running as first reserve. He has been declared for the Topham on Friday and would run in that if there are no late withdrawals from the National.”

There will be no possible reprieve for 2014 winner Pineau De Re (46 on the list), Becher Chase winner Highland Lodge (47), twice-placed Alvarado (48) or Cause Of Causes (49).

Highland Lodge’s trainer Jimmy Moffatt said: “It is a shame we did not get in, but there is nothing we can do about it and we hope to run him in the Scottish Grand National a week on Saturday instead.”

Geraghty chooses Shutthefrontdoor

The most high-profile late jockey booking was Barry Geraghty, who followed his predecessor Sir Anthony McCoy in delaying his choice of JP McManus’ runners until the last minute. He will ride Shutthefrontdoor, fifth for McCoy in last year’s race from a 1lb higher mark.

McManus, owner of Cause Of Causes, has three others in the final field. Gilgamboa will be ridden by Robbie Power, Gallant Oscar by Mark Walsh and Pendra by Aidan Coleman.

Bryan Cooper also made his decision among the Gigginstown House Stud-owned trio, picking First Lieutenant. David Mullins will ride Rule The World, while the Willie Mullins-trained Sir Des Champs had no declared jockey at the 10am deadline.

Sir Des Champs and stablemate Boston Bob were the only two declared runners without a rider shortly after declarations, though the latter is widely expected to be the mount of Mullins’ stable jockey Ruby Walsh.

Paul Nicholls has declared six in his bid to keep Mullins from wresting the trainers’ championship from his grasp. Wonderful Charm is the choice of stable jockey Sam Twiston-Davies.

Nicholls’ other runners are Silviniaco Conti (ridden by regular jockey Noel Fehily), Rocky Creek (Andrew Thornton), Unioniste (Nick Scholfield), Just A Par (Sean Bowen) and Black Thunder (Gavin Sheehan).


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