JOINT top-weight Carlingford Lough was among a handful of horses withdrawn from the Crabbie’s Grand National at the latest confirmation stage with a total of 74 contenders standing their ground for the Aintree showpiece.
Connections of the John Kiely-trained Irish Hennessy winner were quick to rule out a trip to Liverpool following his unplaced run in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, but fellow top-weight Lord Windermere stands his ground at the head of the field.
Jim Culloty’s charge was pulled up in his defence of the Gold Cup but could still join stablemate Spring Heeled in the April 11 contest. Should Lord Windermere win, he would be only the third horse to land both races following Golden Miller and L’Escargot.
Many Clouds, another Gold Cup also-ran, remains in the reckoning for Oliver Sherwood while the Paul Nicholls-trained trio of Sam Winner, Unioniste and Newbury winner Rebel Rebellion are all towards the top of the handicap.
Ante-post favourite Shutthefrontdoor - the expected mount of Tony McCoy - and his Jonjo O’Neill stablemate Merry King are firmly in contention, but Willie Mullins’s Prince De Beauchene was a notable absentee along with Tony Martin’s Living Next Door.
The Druids Nephew, Cause Of Causes, Al Co, Teaforthree and Monbeg Dude also stand their ground with Alvarado the last to make the 40-strong field as it stands.
Rolling Aces, Alderwood, Boston Bob, Shotgun Paddy, Theatrical Star, Roi Du Mee, Katenko, Make A Track, Cedre Bleu and Buddy Bolero were the other withdrawals.
While Keith Reveley’s Night In Milan is guaranteed a run - the Saltburn trainer’s stable star is 19th in the handicap - prospects for the remaining Yorkshire entries are less clear.
Sue Smith’s Vintage Star is 59th - it will be touch and go whether he makes the cut - while stablemate Lackamon is 70th and almost certain not to make the cut.
The same applies to David O’Meara’s Rose Of The Moon who is 71st in the handicap.