Racing: Jodami entered for National

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The number of entries for this year's Grand National is the lowest in recent years, with just 82 challengers announced yesterday. Like the Champion Hurdle, which attracted a disappointing 24 entries on Monday, contenders for racing's most famous s teeplechase have dropped by 16 on last year.

The level of entries has fallen successively since 1992 when 111 names were submitted but never, at any time in the last 10 years, by so many. Nevertheless the race organisers preferred yesterday to highlight the quality of the contenders, which include the last four Cheltenham Gold Cup winners.

Aintree's managing director, Charles Barnett, said: "The remarkable quality reinforces the belief that owners and trainers now view the Grand National as a race of true class and quality, much more than just a long-distance handicap chase."

Among the most significant entrants for the race, for which weights will not be published until 7 February, are the ante-post favourite, Master Oats, and Jodami. The Fellow, the King George VI Chase winner Algan, and Val D'Alene complete a three-strong challenge from Francois Doumen.

Miinnehoma, last year's winner, leads a Martin Pipe team of eight entrants compared to 17 in 1994. Garrison Savannah, the runner-up of 1991, Party Politics, winner in 1992, and Esha Ness, first past the post in the void race of 1993, are among old favourites set to return.

Jodami, the 1993 Gold Cup winner, is a serious candidate if he safely negotiates his next two races at Leopardstown and Cheltenham. Peter Beaumont, his trainer, said: "I think he is the sort of horse for the National and I would be quite happy to run him."