Racing: Take the Rough route for a second National success

The former National Hunt jockey Steve Smith Eccles (right) gives a runner-by runner analysis of the Grand National
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The Independent Online
Suny Bay: Second last year on much faster going to Lord Gyllene under a light weight but faces a stiffer task at the top of the handicap this time. Should like the easier ground.

Rough Quest: The 1996 National winner uncharacteristically fell in the Gold Cup last time but came out of the race unscathed. He is reported to be fit and well and looks likely to go off as favourite.

Challenger Du Luc: An enigmatic horse who does not seem to relish a struggle and may not last out this trip of four and a half miles.

Banjo: Has not shown enough worthwhile form this season to figure.

Scotton Banks: The horse and the stable are way out of form.

Earth Summit: As game as they come and has proven stamina for a slog in the mud having won the Scottish and Welsh Nationals. Every chance of making the frame.

Avro Anson: Ran disappointingly at Haydock and would be unsuited by soft ground. Has to improve dramatically.

Nahthen Lad: Represents the Jenny Pitman stable and stays all day. Will be putting his best foot forward at the finish - if he does not get detached.

Dun Belle: Has good form against Dorans Pride but ran very poorly last time and I have doubts about this one completing the course.

General Crack: Has not sparkled this season.

Ciel De Brion: A French raider who was fourth in the Hennessy Gold Cup but does not look good enough here.

Court Melody: This one picked up two big prizes this winter and has form over the course. Has an each-way chance if his last outing is discounted.

Go Universal: It would be an outstanding training performance if this horse won first time out. Come to think of it, it would be a miracle.

Celtic Abbey: The trainer is in good form - the horse is not.

Him Of Praise: He has had an excellent season in winning four times from six starts but needs plenty of encouragement from the saddle. Stays well and likes the mud and should run a big race.

Into The Red: This OAP is over the hill at the age of 14.

St Mellion Fairway: This year's form does not put him in the frame.

What A Hand: Not good enough.

Samlee: Although 10lb out of the handicap this tough, consistent individual stays well and can make the frame.

Gimme Five: I will give you 10 if this wins.

Greenhil Tare Away: I would not like to be riding this one.

Stormtracker: Unlikely to run.

Yeoman Warrior: Inconsistent but did finish second in last year's John Hughes Trophy over the National fences.

Pond House: Last ran over two miles and a furlong, so this trip is a big question mark.

Brave Highlander: Jumps well and will stay the trip. A long way out of the handicap but could run well.

Hillwalk: No chance.

Joe White: First run of the season - who is kidding who?

Diwali Dancer: I rode him over hurdles but would not partner him over these giant obstacles.

Do Rightly: Do rightly - and forget it.

Killeshin: Stays all day but at a slow pace.

Fabricator: Not a prayer.

Pashto: Has had problems and will do well to complete.

Damas: Very little chance.

Radical Choice: His last run was in a novice chase so he will be lucky to get round.

Choisty: Ex-point-to-pointer who faces a daunting task.

Griffins Bar: Fell here over these fences on Thursday and has not got the form to figure.

Maple Dancer: Has not completed in his last three outings.

Winter Belle: Connections are expecting a lot from a horse that carries 2st overweight.

Decyborg: Should stay at home.

Conclusion: Suny Bay ran respectably in the Gold Cup and has a good chance of improving on last year's second. However the 1996 National winner, ROUGH QUEST, is reported to be in good form and looks the one to beat. The dour stayer Earth Summit and the consistent Samlee have sound each- way claims.

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