The world’s greatest and richest chase takes place over 30 fences and four miles, two furlongs and 74 yards at Aintree on Saturday, April 14, day three of the 2018 Randox Health Grand National Festival.
A nine-year-old son of Kayf Tara, the Corbett Stud-owned Final Nudge has been in good form so far this season, putting up his best performance when third under 11st 6lb, beaten 15 lengths, behind fellow Randox Health Grand National aspirants Raz De Maree (Gavin Cromwell IRE) and Alfie Spinner (Kerry Lee) in the Welsh Grand National over an extended three miles and five furlongs at Chepstow on January 6.
A seven-time winner, Final Nudge finished runner-up to Present Man in the Listed Badger Ales Trophy Handicap Chase at Wincanton in November and was last seen out when a close fifth under 11st 10lb in the Masters Handicap Chase over three miles at Sandown Park on February 3.
Final Nudge is a 50/1 chance for the Randox Health Grand National with Betway, official betting partner of the Randox Health Grand National Festival.
Dennis, who is based Worcestershire, reported: “We want to keep our options open with Final Nudge and obviously races as valuable as the Randox Health Grand National are very few and far between!”
Final Nudge has an official BHA rating of 143, which was the lowest rating to gain a place in the final field of 40 for the 2017 Randox Health Grand National.
Dennis continued: “It will be interesting to see what weight we get on Tuesday and whether we are likely to get in the race. It is going to be touch and go.
“Final Nudge has jumped much better this year than he did last season as a novice. He has got a lot more confident over his fences and has jumped very well on his last two starts at Chepstow and Sandown.
“I’d be hopeful he would be good enough in the jumping department for Aintree.
“He is fairly versatile as regards to ground. He ran a nice race up at Ayr last year when I thought the ground might be a bit quick for him, but he handled it OK. I am fairly open minded as to ground for him.”
As well as the Randox Health Grand National, Final Nudge also holds an entry in the Betfred Grand National Trial at Haydock Park on February 17, but is unlikely to take up that option.
Dennis continued: “He won’t go to Haydock.
“At the moment, his next run is a toss up between the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival or we could possibly look at going to the Midlands National at Uttoxeter.”
A stellar 105 entries were announced on January 31 for the Randox Health Grand National. Blaklion, one of six entries for dual Grand National-winning trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies, was fourth in the four and a quarter mile contest last year and heads the market as the 10/1 favourite with Betway.
There are 40 Irish-trained contenders, headed by Total Recall (Willie Mullins, 16/1 with Betway), who enhanced his Aintree claims with a comfortable victory in a valuable three-mile handicap hurdle at Leopardstown on February 4.
The weights for the 2018 Randox Health Grand National, framed personally by the British Horseracing Authority’s Head of Handicapping, Phil Smith, will be revealed tomorrow evening, Tuesday, February 13, at BAFTA in London’s West End.
The Randox Health Grand National is the only handicap of the year where Smith has absolute discretion to deviate from the normal handicap ratings when determining the weights.
A maximum of 40 runners can go to post at 5.15pm on Saturday, April 14.
On Tuesday, February 13, Racenews will send an embargoed release at 11am with reaction to the Randox Health Grand National weights from Phil Smith, John Baker (Regional Director North West, The Jockey Club) and a couple of trainers. This will have a STRICT EMBARGO FOR PUBLICATION of 7.30pm on Tuesday, February 13, when the Randox Health Grand National weights are made public.