Monkerhostin has been billed top-weight of 11st 12lb for the John Smith’s Grand National (8 April). After much deliberating by senior British Horseracing Board jumps handicapper Phil Smith, the weights were revealed during a media lunch today. The Philip Hobbs-trained nine-year-old is closely followed by Hedgehunter on 11st 10lb – 9lb more than last year when he scooped a 14-length victory. Last year’s runner-up, Royal Auclair, has also been allocated 11st 10lb.

There are 85 horses contesting this year’s £700,000 prize, compared to a record 92 last year but a maximum of 40 will run. Charles Barnett, Managing Director at Aintree Racecourse, commented: “This is yet another fantastic entry. Class is again in abundance and once again we have tremendous support from the Irish who have such a fantastic record in recent years.”

Clan Royal (pictured), runner-up in 2004 and carried out by a loose horse when in the lead at Beecher’s second time last year, has been given 10st 8lb and is certain to be one of the favourites. Meanwhile Robert Alner was pleased with Sir Rembrandt’s 10st 13lb allocation. The enigmatic 10-year-old has been placed in the last two Cheltenham Gold Cups and has showed promising form this season, chasing home Eurotrek at Warwick. Sir Rembrandt will run in the Cheltenham Gold Cup before a decision is made on his Grand National participation.

Martin Pipe, who entered 22 horses, has nine within the top 40 – Therealbandit (11st 7lb), Joaaci (11st 6lb), last year’s fourth It Takes Time (11st 6lb), Comply Or Die (11st 2lb), Celtic Son (10st 12lb), Seebald (10st 11lb), Whispered Secret (10st 10lb), Puntal (10st 10lb) and Garde D’Estruval (10st 9lb).

His rival Paul Nicholls, who is currently leading this season’s trainers’ championship, has six within the safety limit. As well as Royal Auclair, he has Cornish Rebel (11st 7lb), Le Roi Miguel (11st 5lb), Eurotrek (11st 2lb), Silver Birch (10st 10lb) and Le Duc (10st 8lb).

Aintree legend Ginger McCain is set to have two runners – Ebony Light (10st 8lb) and the 2004 winner Amberleigh House (10st 7lb). Hobbs, in addition to Monkerhostin, has another three horses guaranteed a run, namely One Knight (11st 7lb), Lacdoudal (11st 3lb) and Double Honour (10st 8lb).

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