The Last Samuri on familiar trail to Grand National
The Last Samuri (right): will press Grand National claims at Doncaster
PICTURE: Martin Lynch (racingpost.com/photos) Last Samuri on familiar trail to Grand National By David Baxter 11:24AM 3 MAR 2017
KIM BAILEY is hoping The Last Samuri can enjoy a nice tune-up for next month's Randox Health Grand National by successfully defending his BetBright Grimthorpe Handicap Chase crown at Doncaster on Saturday.
Last season the nine-year-old finished runner-up to Rule The World at Aintree, and is a 16-1 chance to go one better this time around.
Last year The Last Samuri defeated five rivals at Town Moor, and he only has to face one more this time following Friday's declarations. However he does have topweight of 11st 12lb.
Trainer Kim Bailey said on At The Races: "He has top weight and it is a very different ball game to last year but he's in good form and I'm very happy with him."
Definitly Red can be backed at 33-1 for the National, and lines up in opposition for Brian Ellison, along with Sego Success, who was fourth last year.
There could also be Grand National clues at Newbury, with O'Faolains Boy entered in a 3m1f veterans' handicap chase.
A top-priced 50-1 for the National, the Rebecca Curtis-trained ten-year-old will square off against Harry Topper, also trained by Kim Bailey, while Rocky Creek and Just A Par also feature in a field of 12.
The card will also feature the return of Bloody Mary, not sighted since finishing third behind Limini in the Grade 2 Mares' Novices' Hurdle at last year's Cheltenham Festival.
Trained by Nicky Henderson and owned by JP McManus, the six-year-old holds entries for the Coral Cup, Martin Pipe and County Hurdle, but a victory on Saturday would see her pick up a 5lb penalty, something necessary for her to stand a chance of running at the festival as she is a long way down the weights for the races on a mark of 133.
Those who have backed Identity Thief for the Arkle or JLT may still have hope, with Henry de Bromhead's seven-year-old declared for a novice chase at Leopardstown on Sunday.
His participation at Cheltenham was considered "unlikely" by De Bromhead last week after he pulled a shoe off in his box, but all options have been left open.