Racing: Juveigneur joins Hedgehunter in Hemmings' National squad

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The Independent Online

Just 12 horses were withdrawn at yesterday's five-day declaration stage for the Grand National, leaving 84 horses left in the race and well backed hopes in Ross Comm and Colnel Rayburn as uncertain participants.

At the top of the handicap Hedgehunter is 4-1 favourite to land back-to-back runnings. Michael Meagher, racing manager to the gelding's owner, Trevor Hemmings, said: "Willie [Mullins, his trainer] is very happy with him but 4-1 is ridiculous."

Hemmings will have a second string in Juveigneur, who finished second in the William Hill Chase at Cheltenham. He will have the 1996-winning rider, Mick Fitzgerald in the saddle. "Juveigneur ran a great race at Cheltenham," Meagher said. "He's been round Aintree, in the Topham, and said was just adequate, but they schooled him last week and he jumped away great so they are happy and are going there positive enough with him. He was second in the Betfred and has a squeak."

Ladbrokes report backing for Sue Smith-trained Ross Comm and have shortened him to 20-1, although he is not guaranteed a run. "If he gets in, he'll give them all a run," said the trainer's husband, Harvey Smith.

The 12 horses taken out are Calling Brave, Fondmort, Celtic Son, Seebald, Joly Bey, Europa, Another Rum, Kymandjen, Marcus Du Berlais, Coljon, Bounce Back and No Retreat.

* The BHB plans to introduce 48-hour declarations for all Flat races from July.