Trainer Kim Bailey believes a return to better ground will bring out the best in The Rainbow Hunter in the John Smith's Grand National at Aintree on April 6.
A winner at Ascot on his seasonal return in November, The Rainbow Hunter was pulled up in a bog at Chepstow next time but ran more encouragingly when fourth in a Listed event at Ascot on his latest appearance.
The progressive nine-year-old is one of 73 horses going forward for the National following the first scratchings deadline. Bailey, who landed the 1990 Grand National with Mr Frisk, said: "The Rainbow Hunter is still on course for the Grand National. He came out of his run at Ascot very well and I think he will improve for that."
The trainer went on: "He wants good ground - it was very gluey at Ascot. He found it hard to jump out of that ground because he is not very big and finds it quite difficult. He will go on soft but not when the going is like that. He seems to stay well and his size wouldn't concern me around Aintree because I ran Docklands Express around there and he was smaller. It all depends on how they jump.
"I'm hoping there is more to come from him because he seems to be improving and I think the ground will make a big difference. He is in at Cheltenham but I have not made a decision about whether or not he runs there first."
Donald McCain enjoyed a memorable victory in the 2011 National with Ballabriggs, and the 12-year-old is among the Cheshire handler's four remaining entries for this year's renewal.
McCain said: "Everything has gone smoothly with Ballabriggs' preparation this time - we are very happy with him. He will complete his preparation in the same Kelso event he has run in for the last two years. He is 12 years old but Amberleigh House won it at 12. Ballabriggs is an Aintree horse - he likes the place.
"Weird Al was running a nice race last year when he fell at the fourth-last. His form has been disappointing this season but he is a little bit that way. He seemed to be taking to Aintree quite well last year. It was slightly unusual that Across The Bay's last race was over hurdles but he won a Grade Two at Haydock.
"He stays, he jumps and is a young and improving horse, who is going the right way. If he took to the place, he could run a massive race."
Irish champion trainer Willie Mullins has four remaining contenders, headed by On His Own and Prince De Beauchene. The trainer has, however, scratched Call The Police. Gordon Elliott captured the John Smith's Grand National in 2007 with Silver Birch and has six contenders going forward, headlined by Chicago Grey and Roi Du Mee. Seabass, Wyck Hill and Join Together all remain in the mix. Call The Police is one of 11 scratchings, with the injured Tidal Bay taken out as expected.
30 July 2015Jack's the lad in Galway Hurdle
Gosden salutes 'magical' Sir Peter
Laviniad gets up late in Corrib
Simple for Beckett and Bentley
Orange pips Goodwood rivals
Shalaa dazzles in Richmond
Relief for Hughes as Gibeon strikes
Cover up for Goodwood defence
Clown gets serious at Galway
Eddery aiming for Mile high
Fox finale for Hughes
Ivory unveils strong Stewards' team
Treacy sent for scans
Stars on show in Nassau
Lynam 'proud' of Sir Peter alliance
Tributes pour in for O'Sullevan
It's Shanahan's turn at Galway
Sir Peter O'Sullevan dies, aged 97
Kachy not for catching in Molecomb
No Sussex regrets for O'Brien
Solow flying high at Goodwood
Highland reels in Gordon rivals
Shalaa in top trim for Richmond
Dunlop excited by Trip to Goodwood
29 July 2015Fortune favours Twiston-Davies
Peacock pair vie for Galway glory
Moviesta gets King George go-ahead
Karakontie has Deauville date
Dog delivers for Mullins and Walsh
Tint proves Topaz jewel
Maguire back in the saddle
Blue back with a bang
Tough Toormore takes Lennox glory
All roads lead to Arc for Postponed
Logan shines for Kirby
Frankie grabs Gold at Goodwood
So seeking Sussex success
28 July 2015King targeting Molecomb reign
Mullins hoping Bob is back
Wayman lands BHA role
Medrano eyeing Gordon glory
Options open for Force
Group race aim for Nisser
Modem takes control
Solitaire shines in Weld double
Bach in business
Vastonea out to sparkle in Topaz
Tanzeel unlikely for Cup date
Birch bids for Vintage victory
Toor targets Lennox triumph
Gleneagles misses Solow clash
Charlton eager for Golden Test
27 July 2015Modem takes control
Bach in business
Morny 'ideal race' for Gutaifan
Fahey ponders options for Guest
Perth double-header a washout
Sovereign option for Kodi
Salisbury option for Salvo
Group One trio top Nassau entries
Rain claims Tuesday Perth card
Perth card in doubt
McDonald nets Carlisle hat-trick
Mondialiste impresses in Pomfret
Injury in stalls forces Pilot out
Coleman lands Ferguson role
Gutaifan takes Papin honours
O'Brien plots Goodwood Air raid
Toormore seeks Lennox redemption
Buratino to take flight in Phoenix
Sovereign too soon for Elm Park