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 December 2013Bright start for New Dawn
Twin lights up Hilly Way
Twin lights up Hilly Way
Durkan stroll for Arvika
Unioniste has Lexus aim
New One heading to International
Drowne in hospital after fall
Baby in running for Warwick
Moore sets sights on Kempton
Ex-Oxx ace Mofeed lifts Cup
Cloud and Lantern sunk in Mile
Kanaloa sizzles in Sprint
Dominant shocks The Fugue in Vase
Turner back in business
Faugheen in impressive strike
Flemenstar out of John Durkan
Unioniste claims Listed prize
Grugy great in Tingle Creek
V for victory for Henderson
Chance best in Becher thriller
Hinterland reigns in Henry VIII
Mullins strikes with Gitane
7 December 2013V for victory for Henderson
Twinlight out to show the Way
Wyck primed for big Aintree run
Dandino and Rock miss Vase run
Bec puzzler for Lavelle
Moore's Vino is vintage stuff
Mullins sets sights on Navan
Captain taking charge for Henderson
George plots Aintree gold rush
King out to reign in Henry VIII
Newcastle in talks over AW track
Sir champing at bit for Durkan date
Baby on board for Becher
6 December 2013Carberry sidelined for weekend
Dunaden 'back to his best'
Glance sights fixed on Cup glory
Strawbridge coy over Cloud future
Sire out to profit from Sacre blow
Queen awarded ROA honour
Three-month ban for Arnold
Contrite Butler must 'rebuild life'
Nicholls watching ground for Roque
Topper tests Future waters
Murphy hit by nine-day ban
Big field for Becher
Sacre forced out of Sandown return
Cadeaux team enjoying the ride
Lantern burning bright once more
5 December 2013Rasen survives wind scare
Festival switch for Mares' race
Sacre out of Tingle Creek
No luck for Jwala in Sprint draw
Aigles well ahead of fourth Cup bid
Rasen to check on wind
Butler considers ban response
Court team eyeing Huntingdon return
Oscar on course for Cheltenham
Cantlow in Cheltenham frame
Juddmonte "not for sale"
Noseda content with Grand journey
Cloud future hinges on Mile outcome
Road charts route towards Becher
Knight backs Somersby to shine