IN-FORM Felix de Giles will ride Neptune Equester if Brian Ellison’s chaser lines up in the John Smith’s Grand National on Saturday.
The combination still need two horses to be withdrawn to make the 40-runner cut when the final declarations are made this morning.
However, four horses will be placed on standby and can take their place in the line-up if there are any withdrawals from the main field by 9.30am tomorrow.
The drying conditions at Aintree will lessen the chances of Richard Lee’s Welsh National winner Le Beau Bai lining up, though connections have indicated that they will not make a final decision until Saturday morning if necessary.
Berkshire-based de Giles, a one-time protege of Nicky Henderson, has ridden a career-best 44 winners this season – including a high-profile double for Malton-based Ellison at Haydock last Saturday.
He has been the primary beneficiary of Danny Cook’s injury misfortune – Ellison’s No 1 rider has been on the sidelines with a shattered knee which he suffered at Wetherby in early January.
Neptune Equester’s last outing saw him finish fifth in the Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster behind, among others, Junior – one of the ante-post favourites for the big race.
Other jockey bookings of note see Dougie Costello, a Cheltenham winner aboard John Quinn’s Countrywide Flame, ride Postmaster for Tim Vaughan while Paul Townend, Ireland’s champion jockey, has opted for The Midnight Club from the yard of Willie Mullins.
Richie McLernon, third in this week’s Irish National on Alfie Sherrin, rides Sunnyhill Boy – Jonjo O’Neill’s second string.
Though O’Neill’s hopes primarily rest with Synchronised, the Gold Cup winner and mount of record-breaking AP McCoy, Sunnyhill Boy showed he had an abundance of stamina when winning the Kim Muir at the Cheltenham Festival.