Nicholls reliant on Join Together, with Tidal Bay out of Grand National

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It is fair to say that this season had already had more downs than ups for Paul Nicholls and more bad news has come in the shape of Tidal Bay being ruled out of the Grand National.

Al Ferof and Big Buck’s were already high-profile casualties for the season for Nicholls, robbing him of chances of winning two profitable Cheltenham Festival pots.

Now Tidal Bay’s absence means that Nicholls is without his best chance of repeating his Grand National success of last year with Neptune Collonges.

It was discovered that the 12-year-old didn’t feel right during some cantering at home and tests revealed a tiny stress fracture on his right back leg.

Rest has been prescribed as the best form of medicine and Tidal Bay will not be ready to line up at Aintree.

This has had obvious repercussions on the weights, as Tidal Bay was down to run off the top weight of 11st 10lb.

His withdrawal leaves Albertas Run as the current top weight, but with his participation far from certain, nor that of Cheltenham Gold Cup bound Imperial Commander, Nicholls may still end up saddling the top weight with What A Friend.

Even without Tidal Bay, Nicholls remains 7/1 to train the Grand National winner and this looks a price that must be avoided.

He does still have three other entrants, although making a case for What A Friend or Harry The Viking is difficult.

Join Together does have suitable claims, but punters would be better backing him on his own at 16/1 rather than trying to hedge their bets with the 7/1 on any Nicholls horse crossing the line first.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.