Betfair ambassador Paul Nicholls thinks Vicente and Le Mercurey are his main prospects for this year's Grand National. Here, he gives Betting.Betfair his exclusive thoughts after the declaration of the weights...
"Le Mercurey ran a blinder at Newbury on Saturday, chasing home Native River. He was beaten three lengths in receipt of 1lb from a horse who could well win the Gold Cup."
Vicente and Le Mercurey look like being my two my main contenders for this year's Grand National following the unveiling of the weights in London in midweek.
Racing anoraks will tell you that history is against Le Mercurey because he is only seven years old but I've never paid much attention to those sort of statistics. In my view records are there to be broken. That has always been the challenge.
Le Mercurey ran a blinder at Newbury on Saturday, chasing home Native River. He was beaten three lengths in receipt of 1lb from a horse who could well win the Gold Cup.
So I was relieved the handicapper Phil Smith left him on the same mark in the National. If Le Mercurey runs again before Aintree it will be in a conditions race at Kelso on March 4th.
Vicente warms up for the big day in tomorrow's Grand National Trial at Haydock where I could see him going really well if they don't have any rain.
I've trained him all year with Aintree in mind and he is now down to the mark that he was on when he won the Scottish Grand National on good ground at Ayr.
He is a much better horse on decent ground, stays all day and will definitely not be running at Cheltenham.
Wonderful Charm is another on course for the National if conditions are in his favour. But first we hope he qualifies for the Foxhunters at Cheltenham by finishing in the first two at Haydock tomorrow.
Given all his many training problems Wonderful Charm is just about the worst handicapped horse in the yard on a mark of 153 so it hard to be confident about his chances in the National.
Of my other entries we have yet to decide about Aintree for Saphir Du Rheu and will see first how he goes in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The plan is for Just A Par to run in the National if he gets in which he should do. He will also have an entry in the eve of race sale at Aintree on the Thursday if anyone fancies buying a National candidate.
Nothing has been decided yet about Vivaldi Collonges and it looks like As De Mee will wait another year and head instead for the Topham this April.