Grand National 2016: Many Clouds carries top weight

Many Clouds (right) wins the 2015 Grand National
Many Clouds jockey Leighton Aspell enjoyed a second consecutive victory in the Grand National in 2015.

Last year's Grand National winner Many Clouds has been handed the top weight of 11st 10lbs for the race at Aintree on 9 April.

The 12-1 favourite is a pound heavier than he was in his 2015 victory as he bids to become the first back-to-back winner since Red Rum in 1973 and 1974.

Cheltenham Gold Cup contender Don Poli is 11st 9lbs and King George VI Chase winner Silviniaco Conti 11st 8lbs.

Shutthefrontdoor, fifth for Tony McCoy last term, carries 10st 11lbs.

One of three entries for Jonjo O'Neill, Shutthefrontdoor shouldered 11st 2lbs last year.

Five of the first six horses home in 2015 are among the 126 initial entries, with runner-up Saint Are allocated 10st 5lbs, fourth-placed Alvarado 10st 2lbs and sixth Royale Knight on 10st 1lbs.

Dual Irish Gold Cup victor Carlingford Lough has been handed an initial weight of 11st 7lbs while well-backed Willie Mullins-trained Valseur Lido is 11st 6lb,

The weighting game
Allocation of weights is a pivotal moment for trainers, jockeys, owners and punters.
Unlike the Cheltenham Gold Cup, where horses race off level weights, the Grand National is a handicap.
Horses are ranked according to their previous form, with the best given top weight.
The handicapper's ultimate (although in practice unfeasible) aim is for the horses to pass the winning post in a dead heat.
The closest finish came in 2012 when Neptune Collonges denied Sunnyhillboy by the shortest possible distance - a nose.

Saturday's Denman Chase winner Houblon Des Obeaux commands 11st 5lbs and Mouse Morris' First Lieutenant (11st 4lb) also feature at the top of the handicap.

Apart from Many Clouds, there is another horse attempting to win a second Grand National. Pineau De Re is handed 10st 2lbs, compared to 10st 6lbs when victorious in 2014.

Champion trainer Paul Nicholls has more entries than any other trainer with nine engaged, headed by Silviniaco Conti.

There are two past winners of the Cheltenham Gold Cup amongst the entries with the 2014 champion Lord Windermere on 11st1lb and the 2011 victor Long Run handed 10st 8lbs.