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.
2 September 2014ARC "committed" to Newcastle plan
Panther primed for Leger mission
Noble on Champion Mission
Danzeno to enter big league
Story set for Dubai return
Ruler in line for Foy return
BHA turn down Newcastle bid
Towcester not "turning its back"
Demuro booked for Moon Arc prep
Chicquita nears return
Murphy excited by Purse
Surprise Matron aim for Tapestry
Maguire nearing racecourse return
Estimate among bumper Cup entry
Maguire hails 'fantastic' Peddlers
Balding staying grounded with Park
Culloty joins Leger Legends
Regard among September possibles
Cox takes Haydock plunge with Love
Paddy gunning for Chepstow
Athenian has sales date
No hurry for Cape call
Mirza on Abbaye trail
1 September 2014McCain salutes retiring Peddlers
Seven Towcester meetings go to ARC
Further checks for Condon
Due set to miss Sprint date
Condon 'stable' after Cork fall
Queen rules supreme for Smith
River eases to debut success
Carla tops it up to four
Atzeni strikes on Cappella
Ocean team want Haydock rain
Big time beckons for Orange
Palmer aims high with Aktabantay
Hills ponders Dutch gameplan
31 August 2014Atzeni strikes on Cappella
Imminent return Likely
Logic on comeback trail
Dan edges closer to Mile high
Keane error costly for Unrequited
Notarfbad makes all in Mildmay
Orange enjoys Big win
Fabre strikes with Fintry
Akta in late Solario swoop
Icon takes starring role
Pearl fires home in Bullet
Shortall suffers injury setback
Tent team consider chasing
30 August 2014Keane error costly for Unrequited
Shepherd's sent to Tower
Time will tell for Charlton
Stack filly Alive to chance
Sansevero sent to Tower
Palmer plots Solario success
Fabre has high hopes for Fintry
Belardo team keen on Champagne
Rigueur targets Chester consolation
Native in hunt for Bullet gains
Arc still target for Taghrooda