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Grand National favourite Blaklion has had wind op following Haydock defeat

Blaklion: has undergone a wind operation
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Randox Health Grand National favourite Blaklion has had a wind operation since his last run, when beaten some 54 lengths by Yala Enki in Haydock's trial for Aintree's big race.

Blaklion had previously this season finished runner-up in the Charlie Hall and won the Becher over the famous Aintree fences, and has retained his position at the head of the Grand National market, despite that disappointing defeat last month.

His trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies reported on Friday: "He's had soft cauterisation of his palate, which is a very minor one. We gave him a galloping scope and that's what came up."

He added: "It was always the plan to miss Cheltenham and all is going well. He's in great form."

Blaklion can be backed at 12-1 for the £1 million showpiece on April 14.

Anibale in, Causes out

Cheltenham Gold Cup third Anibale Fly is likely to line up in the race according to owner JP McManus's racing manager Frank Berry.

However, the McManus-owned Cause Of Causes, who finished second in the National a year ago, is unlikely to run having been pulled up lame in the Cross Country Chase at the festival.

Speaking at Navan on Friday, Berry said: "Anibale Fly came out of Cheltenham very well and Aintree is on the agenda if Tony [Martin, trainer] is happy with him over the next couple of weeks.

"However, there has to be a doubt about Cause Of Causes running as he hasn't been right since Cheltenham."

Berry confirmed that McManus's bid for a second win in the National, which he landed with Don't Push It in 2010, will also include Minella Rocco, Carlingford Lough and Regal Encore, who finished eighth in the race a year ago.

Minella Rocco, last year's Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up who missed this year's renewal due to unsuitable ground, will be tackling the National fences for the first time, as will 12-year-old Carlingford Lough, who is a five-time Grade 1 winner over fences but hasn't won since landing the Punchestown Gold Cup in April 2016.

Nicky Henderson has just the one National contender in Gold Present, but will certainly be one of the key trainers at the meeting, with several of his Cheltenham star performers under consideration to appear.

"Buveur D'Air is good and the plan would be Aintree, as he did last year," said Henderson, speaking at Newbury on Friday.

"Altior could either go to Aintree or Sandown, and Might Bite is fine. We've just got to think about him. He's come out of it well, but the Gold Cup was tough.

"We have four weeks between Cheltenham and Aintree, but none of them had easy races at Cheltenham. Nico [de Boinville] said Altior didn't have an easy race, which makes me think we might wait the extra time and go to Sandown, but that's not cast in stone. I'd love to try him over two and a half miles.

"Punchestown comes into it – I'm a great fan of the meeting but you can only do one. You've got Aintree, Ayr, Punchestown and Sandown, but you can only go to one whatever happens."

Henderson added: "The intention would be for all three of Buveur D'Air, Altior and Might Bite to run again, and so could a few of the others, but only if they tell us everything we want to know."

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He's had soft cauterisation of his palate, which is a very minor one. We gave him a galloping scope and that's what came up
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