Grand National 2016: Aintree field headed by Many Clouds

By Frank KeoghBBC Sport
Many Clouds
Many Clouds beat Saint Are in a close finish in last year's running
Crabbie's Grand National 2016
Venue: Aintree Date: Saturday, 9 April, 17:15 BST
BBC coverage: Commentary and updates on Radio 5 live; live text commentary, pinstickers' guide, sweepstake kit on BBC Sport website

Last year's winner Many Clouds heads Saturday's Grand National field after the 40-runner line-up was confirmed.

Lower-rated horses are balloted out, with The Romford Pele occupying the number 40 slot.

There were no withdrawals in Thursday's final declaration stage. Four reserves are on standby should any runner pull out before 13:00 BST on Friday.

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Pinstickers' guide

What are the prospects for this year?

Many Clouds is 7-1 favourite ahead of 10-1 chance The Last Samuri and 12-1 shot Silviniaco Conti.

Coverage of the race, over 30 fences and nearly four-and-a-half miles, is expected to be followed by 600 million people worldwide.

Organisers have put back the time of the race by an hour to 17:15 BST in an effort to further increase the audience.

Latest odds
7-1 Many Clouds; 10-1 The Last Samuri; 12-1 Silviniaco Conti;
14-1 Holywell, The Druids Nephew; 16-1 Saint Are;
20-1 Shutthefrontdoor, Gallant Oscar, Gooonyella;
25-1 Kruzhlinin, Morning Assembly, Ucello Conti, Boston Bob; 33-1 Bar
(Approximate prices as of 10:00 BST, Thursday 7 April)

Why have some leading contenders missed out?

The National is a handicap chase, with each runner allotted a different weight to carry by the official handicapper Phil Smith.

Some trainers are faced with the tricky task of trying to ensure their contenders perform well enough to get a rating which guarantees a run, without landing a big weight that hampers their chances.

Pineau De Re is now in the twilight of his career, at the age of 13, and his rating has dropped.

Big names to have missed out
Bishops Road, winner of the Grand National Trial at Haydock in FebruaryPineau De Re - Winner of the Grand National two years ago
Highland Lodge, winner of the Becher Chase - Aintree's trial over the National fencesAlvarado, fourth in the National in 2014 and 2015

No horse of that age has won the National since Sergeant Murphy in 1923.

The British Horseracing Authority has indicated it is open to reviewing the entry system ahead of next year's National.

History in the making?

Top weight Many Clouds will seek to become the first horse since the legendary triple victor Red Rum in the 1970s to win back-to-back runnings.

Victory would see jockey Leighton Aspell, who also triumphed aboard Pineau De Re two years ago, become the first rider to win three years running.

Officials believe modifications to the fences, and other alterations, introduced three years ago have helped improve safety.

Since the changes, there have been no fatal injuries in the National itself, although two horses died in other races at the three-day meeting last year.

Leighton Aspell
Jockey Leighton Aspell - seen here after his 2014 triumph - is aiming for an unprecedented three wins in a row
Many Clouds wins 2015 Grand National
Aspell and Many Clouds finish clear of the rest to win the 2015 race
Aintree course being worked on
The National course was rated as Soft, Good to Soft in places on Thursday morning
Bag checks at Aintree
Security around the meeting - which was postponed in 1997 after a bomb scare - is tight

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