Waiting game for Lytham owner's National hope

Deadline looms for National hope
Deadline looms for National hope
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The clock was ticking today for Lytham racehorse owner Alan Halsall,clinging to his last remaining hope of having a runner in the £1 million Crabbies Grand National at Aintree.

All 40 horses above his horse Bishops Road in the National weights stood their ground for Saturday's race after the final declaration stage.

Bishops Road, the number 41 horse in the list, had to be content with first reserve spot

If any of the 40 declared pull out before Friday's 1pm deadline, Bishops Road would get a run in the world's greatest steeplechase.

Bishops Road, trained in Herefordshire by Kerry Lee, will still get a spin over the formidable Aintree obstacles.

The alternative for the horse is the Topham Chase, over one circuit of the big fences, on Friday afternoon, for which he has been declared.

A resigned Halsall said: "It is unlikely that we will get in the National now.

"We want to run in the National because we think Bishops Road is so well in at the weights.

"But if don't get in, we will be delighted to be able to take our chance in the Topham, instead."

Bishops Road has been trained specifically for Aintree, having won the Betfred Grand National Trial at Haydock Park in February.

Last year's winner Many Clouds heads a maximum field of 40.

As a result, the last horse in the field is the Rebecca Curtis-trained The Romford Pele.

It means there is no place for 2014 winner Pineau De Re, nor Alvarado, who has finished fourth for the last two years.

Double Seven, who was third in 2014, and Cheltenham Festival winner Cause Of Causes also miss the cut.

All eyes will be on the Oliver Sherwood-trained Many Clouds.

He is bidding to become the first back-to-back winner of the National since Red Rum completed the feat in 1974.

Many Clouds carries the colours of Preston North End owner Trevor Hemmings.

The 80-year-old owner will make history if Many Clouds wins.

It would be his fourth win following previous victors Many Clouds, Ballabriggs and Hedgehunter.

No owner in the centuries-old history of the National has won it four times.

Last year's runner-up Saint Are will try to go one better, while other fancied runners include Silviniaco Conti, The Last Samuri, Holywell, The Druids Nephew and Shutthefrontdoor.

Bishops Road is one of four reserves

The second reserve is the Mick Channon-trained Knock House, while Fergal O'Brien's Perfect Candidate is number three and Maggio, trained in County Dublin by Patrick Griffin, is four.

*Many Clouds has every chance of a repeat win.

He carries only one pound than when successful last year, though tomorrow's renewal looks a better race.

Anyone looking for a couple of likely outsiders could do worse than Just A Par and O'Faolains Boy.