Entries for this year’s Grand National (14 April 2007) are at their lowest for seven years, it has been revealed. Aintree has blamed the rise in the quality of runners for the drop in numbers – there have been 119 entries for the £700,000 race, 29 fewer than last year.

Quality not quantity presides in this year’s entry list. The list of names includes two past winners, Numbersixvalverde and Hedgehunter, and leading Cheltenham Gold Cup hopes Exotic Dancer and State Of Play. Irish trainers account for 33 entries while nine horses have been submitted on behalf of owner JP McManus, and Hedgehunter’s owner Trevor Hemmings has entered eight. Seven of the entries are trained in France.

Champion trainer Paul Nicholls has the biggest individual stable entry, having included Becher Chase winner Eurotrek and Ladalko, while first season trainer David Pipe has six entries.

Will Barbaro’s talent live on?

The extraordinary turn of speed of Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro, who died earlier this week, could be seen on a racetrack again. Barbaro won the Kentucky Derby by 6 1/2 lengths, the largest margin since 1946 and racing enthusiasts are speculating as to whether his brother could emulate his success.

Barbaro’s only full brother, as yet unnamed, untested and unproven, is at grass at Mill Ridge Farm in Kentucky. And even if the 10 ½ month old colt fails to emulate Barbaro’s success there will be more opportunities for lightening to strike twice.

Another full brother to Barbaro is due in mid-April and afterwards La Ville Rouge (Barbaro’s mother) will be put to Barbaro’s father the 22-year-old Dynaformer again.

Blazing Bailey is Horse of the Month

Blazing Bailey, trained by Alan King, is Tattersalls Horse of the Month for January. The five-year-old hurdler is one of the leading contenders for the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at the forthcoming Cheltenham Festival. In the Grade 2 Cleeve Hurdle on 27 January Blazing Bailey finished four lengths ahead of 2005 World Hurdle winner Inglis Drever with the previously unbeaten Black Jack Ketchum a well beaten fifth.

Ayr to spend £100,000

Ayr racecourse is embarking on a £100,000 project to improve drainage at the course. As a result part of the track will be used to stage flat racing this summer. Work will take place in three phases with the first phases completed by September this year.