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Veteran steeplechaser Al Garhood will carry 69kg in his attempt at a history making third win in the $250,000 Grand Annual Steeplechase at Warrnambool on Thursday.

Racing Victoria jumps handicapper David Hegan gave the 12-year-old the same weight as he carried to victory in the 5500m marathon last year.

The Ciaron Maher-trained gelding is equal topweight with the Robbie Laing-trained Vindicating, last year’s Von Doussa, Brierly and Australian Steeple winner.

Vindicating lost his rider Gavin Bedggood in the race last year and was one of the six runners in the eight-horse field who failed to complete the course.

Ridden by Steven Pateman, Al Garhood beat Awakening Dream by 4-1/2 lengths in 2011 and he will meet the Patrick Payne trained runner-up on the same weight terms as last year.

Al Garhood is one of 11 horses to have won the Grand Annual twice and he was also runner-up to Sir Pentire in 2009.

He has also won two Brierly Steeples (2008 and 2009) and was runner-up to Some Are Bent in 2010.

“He loves the place (Warrnambool),” said Maher who has stables at Caulfield and Warrnambool.

“I love training at Caulfield but it’s great to have the beach at Warrnambool as well.”

Al Garhood has had just one jumps start since being spelled after last year’s Grand Annual.

He trialled well over fences at Warrnambool last Friday week with Trent Wells aboard and he was a close second to Brierly Steeple runner Sea Town.

Next in the weights after the equal topweights is the John Wheeler-trained Tobouggie Nights (67.5kg) who gave the trainer his ninth victory in the Great Eastern Steeple (4950m) at Oakbank earlier this month.

Tobouggie Nights is in top form having also won the Von Doussa Steeple (3250m) two days earlier at Oakbank.

The Darren Weir-trained Pay The Aces is the only other of the 15 entries weighted above the minimum with 65.5kg.

Maher also has Pentacolo and Iguazu nominated for the Grand Annual.

Eight of the Grand Annuial entries are engaged in Tuesday’s Brierly Steeple (3450m) – Grizz, the Jarrod McLean-trained pair Cats Fun and Big Jam; Megapixel, Via Savoia, Lucky Lurch, Dinna Latar and Iguazu.

 
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