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Tidal Bay remains at the summit of the weights for the Grand National at Aintree with 65 horses are still in contention.

Paul Nicholls’ popular veteran has had Saturday’s race as his aim since finishing second in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown in February.

Tidal Bay, who unseated his rider in the 2011 Grand National, could be joined in the line-up by stablemates Rocky Creek, Hawkes Point and There’s No Panic, although the latter is not guaranteed to get a run.

Sunnyhillboy, the 2012 runner-up, Godsmejudge, Mossey Joe, Roi Du Mee, Bog Warrior, Same Difference, Katenko and Goulanes were the eight horses scratched at the latest confirmation stage.

Pre-post favourite Teaforthree, Monbeg Dude and the Nicky Henderson-trained quartet of Long Run, Triolo D’Alene, Hunt Ball and Shakalakaboomboom all remain in the mix for the National which has a maximum field size of 40.

Ireland’s hopes of a first Grand National winner since 2007 are perhaps spearheaded by the Willie Mullins-trained Prince De Beauchene.

Stablemate Vesper Bell has also been left in, as have compatriots Double Seven and Colbert Station – the two possible JP McManus-owned options for Tony McCoy – Big Shu, Lion Na Bearnai and Last Time D’Albain.

Trainer Colm Murphy is convinced Quito De La Roque’s fortitude could stand him in good stead for a big run.

The Grade One-winning 10-year-old has had a disappointing season including being pulled up on his last outing at Fairyhouse in February, but Murphy is not without optimism.

Quito De La Roque shaped encouragingly in two previous starts at Aintree, most significantly when he won the Mildmay Novices’ Chase in 2011.

“He’s had his problems over the years but he’s a tough horse, which is obviously important in the National,” Murphy said.

“We’re very happy with him and his preparation has gone well.”

Fergal O’Brien has provisionally recruited Paddy Brennan for Alvarado should regular jockey Paul Moloney not be available.

With Moloney seemingly poised to get the leg-up aboard One In A Milan, trained by long-standing ally Evan Williams and currently the final horse certain to start, Brennan is in pole position.

Sue Smith, who won the race last year with Auroras Encore, is this season likely to go to war with Mr Moonshine and Vintage Star.

 
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