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Nicky Richards has everything crossed that Skippers Brig scrapes into the Grand National field on Saturday.

The 10-year-old is currently 42nd on the list of entries and as yet is not guaranteed a run.

There are question marks over a couple of runners and Willie Mullins has ruled Our Monty out of the race, but as yet Skippers Brig still needs one more to drop out.

Winner of his last two starts, he beat Ballabriggs at Kelso last time out and would meet Donald McCain’s runner on 8lb (3.5kg) better terms this weekend.

“The plan would be to run him if gets in as long as it doesn’t dry out too much,” Richards said.

“Nobody seems to have looked at the weights to see that we’re much better off with Donald’s horse, nobody is talking about him but that suits me.

“He’s in fantastic shape and everything has gone well. I just hope he sneaks in.

“There’s a couple of question marks about a few of them and it might be a bit of a stupid rule. If you’ve got a reserve why can’t you call them in up until 9am on Saturday?

“He’s just come lovely in his coat and I’m very happy with the horse.

“Dominic (Elsworth) came on Monday and schooled him over a couple of National fences that myself and the staff built over the weekend and he loved them.

“He is a sound jumper. I wouldn’t be aiming for the National if he wasn’t. He seems to tick all the boxes, but you never know if they’ll stay.

“Not many, especially those down at the bottom with him, would have had the class to be third in a Boylesports Gold Cup to Poquelin.”

One with a question mark hanging over him was Tony Martin’s Northern Alliance, but the trainer feels it is likely that he will line up after making good progress from a stone bruise setback.

“He’s been ridden out today so hopefully we’re nearly there,” Martin said.

“I’d be hoping we’ll declare him anyway.”

PA gm

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