All of the major fancies stood their ground at the latest forfeit stage for the Crabbie’s Grand National, with 87 horses remaining in the Aintree spectacular on April 11.

Only nine horses were scratched, which included Rajdhani Express and Poole Master, who had not met the qualification criteria.

Willie Mullins gave up the battle to get Back In Focus fit after he suffered an injury in his box, with Kruzhlinin, Green Flag, My Murphy and Loch Ba also ruled out.

The recently-retired Sunnyhillboy, a former Grand National runner-up, and the ill-fated Burton Port were the other horses officially taken out.

One horse very much on target is Peter Bowen’s Scottish National winner Al Co, who ran a promising race over hurdles at Doncaster last weekend.

“It is definitely the plan to go for the Crabbie’s Grand National with Al Co,” said Bowen.

“I was delighted with his run at Doncaster on Saturday, especially as he still wasn’t really quite ready. We may look at giving him one more run before Aintree, which will most likely be over hurdles at Bangor in around a fortnight, which will be three weeks before the National.

“He has won a Scottish National so we know he stays four miles and stamina should not be an issue. The ground was too soft for him earlier in the year and we ran him in the Becher just to give him a spin over the fences.

“The horse is in good form and I am just hoping for good ground at Aintree next month.”

Shutthefrontdoor is 8-1 favourite with Betfred to give Tony McCoy a dream send-off.


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