Tidal Bay has been allotted top weight of 11st 10lb in the John Smith's Grand National at Aintree on April 6.
The Paul Nicholls-trained 12-year-old has been in tremendous form this season, finishing second in the Hennessy at Newbury to Gold Cup favourite Bobs Worth and then winning the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown.
He has an official British Horseracing Authority mark of 171 but has been rated on 162 by official handicapper Phil Smith, who is allowed to use his discretion in framing the National weights.
Nicholls won the National for the first time last year when Neptune Collonges edged out Sunnyhillboy in a thrilling finish, and his team is further bolstered by Becher Chase runner-up Join Together (10st 12lb), and a pair part-owned by Sir Alex Ferguson in What A Friend (11st 5lb) and Harry The Viking (10st 2lb).
Tidal Bay is owned by Andrea and Graham Wylie, who also have leading contenders On His Own (10st 10lb) and Prince De Beauchene (11st 3lb), both of whom are trained by Willie Mullins in Ireland.
A strong Irish-trained entry of 31 features the Ted Walsh-trained pair of Seabass (11st 2lb) and Colbert Station (10st 11lb). Seabass carried 4lb less when third 12 months ago.
Colbert Station is owned by JP McManus and he also has Jonjo O'Neill's Sunnyhillboy, who has 11st this year compared to 10st 5lb in 2012, while the Donald McCain-trained Ballabriggs, successful in 2011, is another on 11st, the same weight as he carried to victory under Jason Maguire.
McCain said: "That weight is fine for Ballabriggs and it will be grand if the top horse (Tidal Bay) runs because then we will have a lovely racing weight.
"He has come out of his race at Warwick OK. He will go to Kelso for the Premier Chase, as he has done for the past two years, and then on to Aintree."
Betfred make Tidal Bay a 16-1 chance and spokesman Mark Pearson said: "Although no top-weight has won the National since Red Rum in 1974 the handicapper has definitely given him some leeway, and never underestimate the Paul Nicholls factor following his success in last year's race."
8 March 2014Top trainers reject watering
Hinterland takes Champion test
Baltimore sets up bonus bid
Warrior wins Trial battle
Fallon hits Meydan heights
Queally hits Sandown target
Chartreux bounces back to best
Brave Vic has Final word
Soumillon strikes on super Shea
Briar tops Bartlett contenders
Calipto leads Triumph hopefuls
On His Own joins Gold Cup field
Ginge fires burn brightly for Neild
Creek forced out of Gold Cup
Milan targeting Final glory
McCoy to miss Sunday and Monday
Exchange rate pays dividend
Temps doubtful for Festival
Conor settles in at Cheltenham
De Bromhead sweet on Special
Epsom to honour St Nick
Mullins dominates JLT entries
Al and Dynaste top Ryanair field
Big two lead World possibles
7 March 2014Lockinge target for Tonto
All set for a super Saturday
Silver aiming to shine
Imperial only thought for Honeyball
Distance fears for Highland
Montiridge preps for Dubai trip
Ayr gets go-ahead
Ayr delay inspection decision
Benbulben misses Cheltenham
Card 'gut wrencher' for Tizzard
Guard stands tall for new record
Faugheen looms over Neptune field
Ballycasey stands firm in RSA
Sire spearheads Queen Mother list
Australia still in Derby shake-up
Henderson perfectly happy with Tent
Regal leads the way in Imperial
6 March 2014McNamara in 'excellent spirits'
Codd snapped up for Sea
Farm National bid in the balance
Byron all set for Aussie challenge
Ayr takes precautions
Bridgwater salutes unsung hero
Murtagh watches on at Lingfield
Mullins retains Fly supporting cast
Bittar welcomes bill amendments
Fenton cleared for Festival runners
Trip concerns sway McCoy to Fishers
Regal vies for Imperial rule
Mullins quintet in Supreme mix
Arkle has Champagne sparkle
Rizeena given dual Guineas options
5 March 2014Bailey praying for rain
Cee Bee supplemented for Champion
Sherwood leaning towards Bartlett
Module to take Queen Mother test
Cee Bee supplemented for Champion
Farr closes in on Winter repeat
Cirrus satisfies Barande-Barbe
Oscar teed up for Bumper raid
Tent 'sound' after injury scare
Sparrow in full flight
Seven shooting straight for Aintree
BHA soothes Mullins security fears
Moore frets over Sea Winter run
Hopes high for Alderwood return
Bolger to make late Gilgamboa call
Nay Never could be a Jersey boy
Guard gallops into record books
Cirrus fourth on Chantilly return
Security on Mullins' mind
Crecy takes Treve pacemaking role
More Of That ride up for grabs
Parade set to swerve Cheltenham
Upbeat Henderson monitoring Tent
Tea team not expecting miracles