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.
27 January 2015Henderson dealt Triolo blow
Tornado blows hot at Taunton
Mann duo head to Musselburgh
Ginge given Scilly date
Cue Card goes back to basics
Eagle ready for hurdling bow
No worries at Wetherby
Shark angling for Punchestown prize
Fry issue Puzzle warning
Grimthorpe goal for Milan
Nicholls retains Zarkandar faith
Ellison duo primed for Supreme test
Mulholland maps out Festival plans
Master retains Festival options
Ruby handed World ticket
Doubt team seek jumping improvement
Dettori possible for National role
Uttoxeter bid appeals for Murphy
Ryanair defence likely for Dynaste
Palace stars in Towton fifteen
Gilgamboa set for longer trip
Jezki 'fine' after Hurricane defeat
Sire satisfies in schooling session
Sceaux leaves Mullins purring
Faugheen fancied for Walsh mount
26 January 2015Aintree on the agenda for Concerto
Light camp cool on Newbury raid
Zarib earmarked as Winter warmer
Lingfield washed away
Lingfield washed away
'Awesome' Sceaux in Arkle romp
Mullins lands the treble
Super Fly proves Champion again
Concerto plans hinge on scan
Sherwood - More to come from Clouds
Skelton nominates Bartlett for Risk
Bridgwater thrilled with Bolster
Foxrock given Hennessy green light
Meade gives Monksland World aim
25 January 2015Sceaux much to admire in Arkle
Sceaux much to admire in Arkle
Williams weighing up Tea options
Lingfield jumps card under threat
Saphir sparkles in Cleeve
Chao springs Neptune surprise
Donny glory never In Doubt
Tango hot to trot at Donny
Apache claims Blaklion scalp
Day disappointment as Anna shines
Clouds claims Cup glory
McCoy rules on Kingdoms
Peace takes Triumph Trial
24 January 2015More injury woe for Carberry
Tiger ready to Roll
Surrey National target for Itoldyou
Sire thrills Moore in Saturday spin
Walsh braced for Sceaux thriller
Festival dream alive for Desilvano
Martello on the march
Snowden excited by View return
Cole chasing Cleeve glory
Green light for Uttoxeter
Easter to swerve Skybet Chase
Pauling lands Town Moor double
Anna aiming for Trophy triumph
Blaklion on prowl at Doncaster
Sceaux primed for Arkle test
Geraghty hoping Co call pays off
Sherwood's head not in the Clouds
Jezki has Fly in sights again
Ground 'not ideal' for Fly