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Bailey happy The Last Samuri's weight for the 2018 Randox Health Grand National

The 2018 Randox Health Grand National weights, decided by the British Horseracing Authority's Head of Handicapping, Phil Smith, will be unveiled this evening (7.30pm), Tuesday, February 13, at BAFTA in London. 

The £1-million Randox Health Grand National, the world's richest Jump race, is the only handicap of the year where Smith has absolute discretion to deviate from the normal handicap ratings when determining the weights. 

Smith has framed the weights for the Randox Health Grand National every year since 1999. This year is the handicapper's 20th and final year in the role. 

He said: "This is my 20th and final year of handicapping the Randox Health Grand National. 

"It is a task that has got easier in some respects and harder in others. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time - it has been both a privilege and a pleasure to frame the weights for the great race. 

"We had a record 88 per cent of horses rated 135+ entered last year but have broken that record again this year with 90 per cent of this year's entries falling into that category. The percentage is double what it was in 2003, when only 45 per cent of entries were rated 135+. I think that is pretty impressive progress. 

"This year, 73 per cent of horses are in the handicap, compared to 67 per cent in 2017. 

"In terms of getting a run on April 14 (there are a maximum of 40 runners), I would say you have a reasonable chance if you are in the top 70, which is down to 10st 2lb. There are six horses in total on 10st 1lb and 10st. Connections of these horses should run and get their marks up as a priority to get to the top of their respective weight groups. 

"The median rating this year is 145 - it was 146 last year and 144 in 2016, so it is well within the normal range." 

John Baker, Regional Director North West at Jockey Club Racecourses, commented: "The 2018 Randox Health Grand National promises to be a high-quality renewal of Aintree's flagship race with a record 90 per cent of the 104 entries rated 135 and above. 

"We look forward to the unveiling of the weights tonight at the iconic BAFTA in London where we will be joined by many leading trainers and owners aiming for glory in the world's greatest and richest chase.

"The Randox Health Grand National Festival continues to go from strength to strength and racegoers planning to attend during the three days are advised to book their tickets in advance to avoid disappointment."

The Last Samuri is ninth in the Randox Health Grand National weights' list with 11st 4lb and a rating of 159. The top-weight for the Randox Health Grand National is 11st 10lb. The Last Samuri is a 20/1 chance with Betway, official betting partner of the Randox Health Grand National Festival. 

Trained by Kim Bailey in Gloucestershire for owners Paul and Clare Rooney, The Last Samuri finished second behind Rule The World in the 2016 running of the world's greatest chase and came home 16th of the 19 finishers last year. 

The 10-year-old, runner-up behind Blaklion in the Randox Health Becher Handicap Chase over the Grand National fences at Aintree earlier this season, was last seen out when a good fourth in the G2 BetBright Trial Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham on January 27. 

Bailey, who tasted Grand National glory with Mr Frisk in 1990, said: "The Last Samuri's weight is what we were expecting given his rating.

"If the weights stay as they are and don't rise, I think he would have more of a chance.

"I have been very happy with him since Cheltenham and he will have a prep race somewhere between now and Aintree.

"We have got several options, but there are no firm plans as we will have to see what the weather does first.

"The Last Samuri doesn't need to have a prep race, but we are lining up to have one at the moment."

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