Hello Bud and Neptune Equester will run in the 2012 Grand National after two of the top 40 horses were scratched at the 48-hour declaration stage.
Le Beau Bai and Always Waining were the ones taken out to leave the final field for the world’s greatest steeplechase at Aintree, plus four reserves who can step in until Friday morning if anything goes wrong with the intended runners.
The defection of Le Beau Bai was no great surprise for his trainer Richard Lee had announced he would not run unless the ground was soft, although originally he said he would leave a decision until the morning of the race.
However, the rain that fell heavily on Aintree at the start of the week has dried up in the last couple of days, so Lee did the honourable thing and made an early call that has guaranteed another runner a place in the line-up.
Always Waining is a more surprising absentee, for it was thought the Grand National was an obvious target for him after his two victories in the Topham Chase over the same unique fences. Tom O’Brien had been booked to ride.
But while trainer Peter Bowen was understood to be keen on a Grand National tilt, owner Peter Douglas had expressed stamina doubts about the 11-year-old who is now set to bid for a Topham hat-trick.
It means a 14-year-old, Hello Bud, takes his place in the Grand National field two years after finishing fifth and is again ridden by trainer’s son Sam Twiston-Davies.
He is also a winner of the Becher Chase over the same fences and is 80/1 with Bet365
to win the 2012 Grand National.
Neptune Equester, trained by Brian Ellison, is a 100/1 outsider and set to be partnered by Felix De Giles.
The four reserves are Any Currency, Our Island, Abbeybraney and Smoking Aces.