Handicapper Phil Smith has defended his decision to allot leading contender Seabass a burden of 11st 2lb in the John Smith's Grand National.
Trainer Ted Walsh appeared bemused by the rise of last year's third, which leaves him badly treated on official ratings with Tidal Bay, the top-weight on 11st 10lb for the Aintree showpiece on April 6.
Smith is allowed to use his discretion for the National in order to attract higher-class horses to take their chance in handicap company and he frames the weights himself, taking into account various factors.
"He's carrying 11st 2lb this year - the last four winners have carried 11st plus - and he was third last year. Horses have a very good record coming back a second time, and I thought he had a reasonably good chance," Smith said of Seabass.
Referring to Tidal Bay, he added: "The horse's real rating is 171 and he has achieved that twice this year, in the Hennessy and in the Lexus. He is going to run off 162 and the theory behind it is that if he can replicate his Lexus run, he has got a chance of winning. The problem is, it's a completely different race.
"It's four and a half miles over 30 fences. If I'd left it as it is, he'd probably have to perform to 180 to win it, but he's a 12-year-old and I don't think anyone would believe he could perform to that level. So I've compressed his weight, and some of the other horses at the top, in order to give them a chance of winning."
It appears a strong contest once again, with dual Ryanair winner Albertas Run next in on 11st 8lb, and 2010 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Imperial Commander on 11st 6lb.
Smith went on: "It's great for the race as the top three have won 10 Grade Ones between them. We are always talking about wanting high-quality horses to run and set the high standard the race deserves. We've definitely got that this year with Tidal Bay, Albertas Run and Imperial Commander.
"In Imperial Commander, I never thought I'd have a Gold Cup winner that wasn't top or second top weight. Who's to say how good he is, because we've only seen him race once in the last two years."
Smith said three horses had given him trouble as he made his decisions on what weights to allocate - Imperial Commander, Wyck Hill and The Rainbow Hunter.
8 March 2014Baltimore sets up bonus bid
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