The entries are in for 2014 Grand National, with the 115 horses on the first shortlist representing the highest at this stage since 2009 and a rise of 31 from the same stage 12 months ago, with the prize money for the legendary steeplechase reaching £1m.
Hennessy Gold Cup winner Triolo D’Alene heads the Grand National betting at 20/1, with runner-up Rocky Creek also prominent in the odds at 25/1, alongside last year’s Aintree third Teaforthree (25/1).
There are no former Grand National winners among this initial entry list, although former victors of the Scottish, Welsh and Irish equivalents are in the field.
It is interesting that six of the last 11 winners had previously finished in the first three in one of the four Grand National varieties and this could make Away We Go as one to pay closer attention to at this early stage.
Willie Mullins is responsible for more entrants than any other trainer and his eight-pronged attack is spearheaded by recent Thyestes Chase winner On His Own.
However, falls in the last two Grand Nationals must be a negative to his chances, alongside his Gowran Park victory, which has caused his chase rating to rise 11lb.
Ruby Walsh is highly likely to ride one of Mullins’ team and the one that he eventually chooses is sure to be well backed in the Grand National betting.
Although this decision is unlikely to become common knowledge before the final declaration stage on April 3rd, it is worth backing one of the Mullins longshots ante-post in the hope that Walsh picks them over 25/1-shot On His Own.
Away We Go has only had two chase starts for Mullins, with the first resulting in a second-place finish in the 2013 Irish Grand National. This was followed up with a decent third in the Bet365 Gold Cup, when throwing away his chance with a blunder at the second-last.
The 11-year-old is still to be seen this season, but an entry is held in the Kempton Park Chase in February, which is a recognised Grand National trial.
A strong showing at Kempton would not only see him shorten for Aintree victory from 33/1, but would make him a favourite to be Walsh’s Grand National mount.