Ted Walsh reports last year's third Seabass to be bang on course for the John Smith's Grand National - but with a weight that has the trainer puzzled.
Seabass is among a strong Irish entry of 31 for the Aintree spectacular on April 6 and has been set to carry 11st 2lb in the weights published today, with Lexus Chase hero Tidal Bay on top with 11st 10lb.
Tidal Bay has an official BHA handicap mark of 171, but has been rated as though he is 162 in the Grand National, for which weights compiler Phil Smith has discretion.
Walsh, speaking before seeing the full list of weights, said: "I don't know how Seabass can get over 11st this year if Tidal Bay is rated 171 and my horse is rated 154. Whatever Phil Smith does, he does, and I can't change it. You don't have to be a great mathematician to subtract 54 from 71."
Seabass returned to the racecourse for the first time since his gallant Aintree effort to run a staying-on second over two miles in a hurdle race at Fairyhouse last week.
Walsh went on: "Seabass will run somewhere in the next three weeks to a month. There is just over seven weeks to Liverpool so I would like to get a run into him. The Bobbyjo Chase at Naas and the Racing Plus Chase at Kempton are possible targets."
Walsh, who won the National in 2000 with Papillon, said of his other entry Colbert Station: "Like Seabass, Colbert Station will possibly have one more run. I have no idea where as he only recently ran. I would also be looking at running him in three weeks to a month, which will be ideal for the National."
The JP McManus-owned Colbert Station won a valuable handicap chase at Leopardstown over Christmas and followed up over hurdles at Punchestown, ridden on both occasions by Tony McCoy on testing ground.
Walsh said: "I wouldn't be worried about the ground for Colbert Station as it is never anything worse than good jumping ground at Aintree. He has 10st 6lb in the Racing Plus Chase at Kempton and is 3lb higher in England than he is in Ireland, which makes him worse off with Seabass in England."
Seabass was ridden by Walsh's daughter Katie last year, when she achieved the highest finishing place yet by a lady rider in the National. His son Ruby would appear to have a number of choices, while McCoy is retained rider for McManus.
18 December 2014Cheltenham dreams for King's Zero
Sivola bids for Long Walk hat-trick
Activial stars in Ladbroke field
Power plan uncertain for Westener
Kauto pleases in Olympia display
Mullins eyes twin assault on Lexus
Value oozes class in Newbury romp
Annie Power on road to recovery
Spencer strikes after U-turn
Vautour ready for next jumps test
Mullins banks on Faugheen progress
Victory set to skip Ladbroke
Mullins: Fever can go the distance
17 December 2014Sidelined Brian misses Whittle
Sceaux to sidestep Haydock raid
Square season derailed by injury
Lexus a non-starter for Clouds
Europe return hinges on ground
Injury woe for Cookson
Plans on hold for Topper
Appeal success for Russell/Enright
Mulholland makes Master plan
Cango makes Catterick impression
Field sizes under BHA microscope
Quinn outlines Aurore options
Legal laying down the law at Ludlow
Ground dictates Attaglance plans
King heartened by Walkon return
Cross set Christmas conundrum
16 December 2014Pipe bowled over by Palace
Cole to duck Leopardstown mission
Pipe bowled over by Palace
Arbuthnot has Starluck options
Geraghty taken with weekend Heroes
Moore the merrier at Plumpton
Estrella back with a bang
Options fluid for Hargam
Lough set for Lexus workout
Sceaux in Haydock frame
Victoire at Ladbroke summit
Five left in Long Walk
15 December 2014Hannon has trio lined up for Dubai
Sherwood sweats on Power Welsh bid
Puffin angling for Ascot return
Kauto takes the plunge at Olympia
River looks swell for Theatre
Ginge team ponder Plate target
View sights fixed on Kempton prize
Sole to stick to trusted routine
Spencer in retirement U-turn
Elliott keen to play waiting game
Pineau pulled up at Carlisle
Heroes steps up in thriller
Estrella returns at Wolves
New camp delay Christmas call
Not a bother on Berlais
Farraaj sixth in Hong Kong Cup
Flintshire comes good in Vase