Having had a chance to look over the 84 entries for the 2013 Grand National, I did little count on how many ran last year and the answer is 17.
So although they are not all guaranteed to run, it looks like a lot of trainers and indeed owners, fancy their charges chances of going one better than in 2012.
Top of the list is Sunnyhillboy who narrowly missed out on victory to the Paul Nicholls trained Neptune Collonges last year but form since then suggests that some further work may need to be done to get him race ready but April 6th. A fifth place in November at Haydock and pulled-up more recently at Warwick on January 12th doesn't bode well for his second attempt at the National.
Also returning this year is Ballabriggs, the Donald McCain trained 2011 winner, who although now 12-years-old, is still in with a shout and no doubt out to prove to the youngsters that he's still got it.
Along with Sunnyhillboy and Ballabriggs are Tatenen, Quiscover Fontaine, Rare Bob, Swing Bill, On His Own, Becauseicouldntsee, Seabass, Cappa Bleu, Chicago Grey, Organisedconfusion, Planet of Sound, Viking Blond, Weird Al, Calgary Bay, and Treacle who all make up the 17 runners from 2012 who are going to try to make the starting line-up again for 2013.
Only seven of them finished the race in 2012 – Sunnyhillboy (2nd), Seabass (3rd), Cappa Bleu (4th), Ballabriggs (6th), Swing Bill (10th), Planet Of Sound (12th) and Calgary Bay (14th) so if you're looking for a horse who knows how to navigate the Aintree fences then you can start with them – fearless, bags of stamina and clean jumping – all the traits you look for in a National horse.
Competition is tough this year though so the weights will tell their own story when they are announced on February 12th 2013!