A RACEHORSE trainer in South Lakeland faces an agonising wait to find out if he will be able to enter his horse in the country's biggest jump race this weekend.

Highland Lodge, a 10-year-old hopeful for the £1million Crabbie's Grand National, is trained by James Moffatt at Cartmel, but currently sits just outside the entry list.

The wait will go down to the wire for Mr Moffatt and Highland Lodge, but there was disappointment on Monday when the latest weights for the event were announced.


The horse was number 52 in the racecard, but climbed to joint 43rd with withdrawals at the five-day confirmation on Monday, but it will need to make at least 40th to be guaranteed a run.

The cut-off to see if it will make it is on Thursday.

Mr Moffatt was confident his horse, which was bought for £22,000 last November, would be in with a good chance of getting an entry having won the Becher Chase across the same hurdles in December.

That win at Aintree returned a near-instant profit on Highland Lodge with a £50,000 prize, and in Mr Moffatt's eyes it was best possible audition for the Grand National.

He said: "You can't get a better preparation as far as a race to run in before the Grand National than the Becher Chase.

"He's beaten seven or eight of the opposition already, you just go under the radar a little by being a smaller yard."

The wait is one of anguish for the Cartmel trainer – should Highland Lodge run it would be the only northern-trained horse in the race.

"We wouldn't be human if it wasn't agonising for us," said Mr Moffatt.

"Rest assured if he does get in he's been training fantastically well, he's ticking all the boxes for us and we have a very excited jockey waiting on.

"All his work and schooling has already been done and over the next three of four days he will just be doing very light canters.

"He's got a great chance we just need to get in the race and if that happens I would be very confident he will run very strongly."

The Hampsfell trained stallion is not only the only horse however that has found itself in surprise danger of failing to take to Aintree on Saturday.

2013 winner Pineau De Re currently occupies a reserve spot, while Alvarado, which placed fourth in each of the last two Nationals, is also in a perilous position.

A successful entry this time around would mark the second occasion Mr Moffatt has trained a National entrant. In 2011 he had Chief Dan George finish in 17th, but given Highland Lodge's recent win jumping over Becher's Brook, he had high hopes for a stronger performance this time around.