February 24th 2009 marked the day for the first forfeit stage of the Grand National 2009. It was at this point that trainers reconsidered their earlier decision to enter their horses in the big race that takes place on Saturday, April 4th 2009.
When 123 horses were announced on 28th January, it was difficult to really tell who would be left standing come April 4th, especially as a maximum of only 40 runners can take a place in the race. The first forfeit stage provides an opportunity to withdraw a horse and reduce the overall number remaining in contention.
This year we've seen 17 horses scratched from the list at the first stage, but none that provided any great shocks. However, two or three did have reasonable odds at the bookies, such as, Gwanako at 25/1 and Abbeyraney at 33/1 (Paddy Power).
Also no longer participating are Air Force One, one of only two German horses entered and Oedipe whose recent poor performance at Kempton may have contributed to the decision to withdraw him.
106 horses remain to battle it out for one of the coveted 40 places available, 30 of who are Irish trained as well as one lone French trained horse, Musica Bella, who is currently at 50/1 on Paddy Power.
With 66 horses still in the game, the second forfeit stage will take place on March 17th so expect another announcement on March 18th. It's at this point that we will see things get really shaken up with another round of horses getting their marching orders.
The five/six day confirmation stage takes place on March 30th with the final declaration stage 10.00am, April 2, leaving us with the 40 horses that will line-up for the most famous steeplechase in the world - the John Smith's Aintree Grand National 2009.
The following 17 horses have been officially scratched by their trainers:
Air Force One (GER), Cane Brake (IRE), Gwanako (FR), Abbeyraney (IRE), Endless Power (IRE), Trabolgan (IRE), Oedipe (FR), D'Argent (IRE), Homer Wells (IRE), Gallant Approach (IRE), Sea Diva (IRE), Emma Jane (IRE), Ballytrim (IRE), Royal Rosa (FR), Denman (IRE), Joe Lively (IRE), Leading Attraction (IRE).
Get a £30 free bet from Paddypower now