Nicky Henderson’s classy Burton Port was the most significant absentee from the list of five-day declarations for Saturday’s eagerly anticipated John Smith’s Grand National at Aintree, the recent Cheltenham Gold Cup fourth being excused duty over the daunting fences and may instead take his chance in the Grade 1 Betfair Bowl earlier at the meeting, writes Elliot Slater.
Burton Port had been trading at as short as (Betting Odds Grand National)12/1 with some firms and his absence means that Nicky Henderson, currently involved in a titanic duel with Paul Nicholls for the jumps trainers’ championship, will have to rely solely on Shakalakaboomboom if he is going to wrap up the race for the title at the showcase Aintree fixture.
Henderson has been trying to win ‘the world’s greatest steeplechase’ for thirty years, and despite going close on a number of occasions is still without a Grand National trophy in his bulging cabinet, but in Shakalakaboomboom, (Aintree Grand National Betting: 20/1), he appears to have the perfect horse for the big race and granted luck in running it is not at all beyond the bounds of possibility that the gelding with one of the longest names in the business might lift the coveted prize.
Aside of Burton Point, whose owner Trevor Hemmings will rely on last year’s winner Ballabriggs to try and provide him with a third Grand National victory in the last eight renewals, the other absentees from the declarations were Midnight Chase, Quel Esprit, Roberto Goldback, Apt Approach, Psycho, Pearlysteps, Prince de Beauchene, Roulez Cool, The Package and Another Palm. Synchronised, a gallant winner of the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup and top weight for the Grand National with 11st 10lbs, remains in the contest although a definitive decision has yet about his participation has yet to be made.