04/08/2010 12:00AM

Mon Mome no longshot this time around


Mon Mome defends his title in the $1.4 million Grand National Handicap Chase at Aintree on Saturday, but the 100-1 he returned when winning last year's race by 12 lengths has shrunk to 10-1 this time around. The Venetia Williams-trained 10-year-old signaled his readiness for the 4 1/2 miles and 30 fences of the Grand National when he closed well to finish third in the 3 5/16-mile Cheltenham Gold Cup, a performance that is at least as good as any put in by his 39 rivals this season.

Aidan Coleman rides Mon Mome, replacing Liam Treadwell, who rode him to victory last year at Aintree. The ground on Saturday is expected to be good to soft with fine weather prevailing between Thursday and raceday.

Big Fella Thanks, who at 152 pounds will be getting nine pounds from Mon Mome and 12 from the 50-1 highweight Madison du Berlais, rates the 8-1 favorite off his victory in the 2 1/2-mile Gold Cup Chase at Newbury on March 6. Trained by Paul Nicholls, he was sixth in last year's Grand National, 23 lengths behind Mon Mome.

Black Apalachi, who fell at the second fence last year when close up, had previously won over the Grand National course going 3 1/4 miles and was a fine second last time in the 3 1/8-mile Bobbyjo Chase at Leopardstown behind Vic Venturi, who picks up five pounds off that effort on Saturday.

Snowy Morning will have his supporters but is a question at the distance, while Arbor Supreme has beaten Black Apalachi going 3 3/4 miles and was a sharp second last time at Leopardstown going 2 5/8 miles. Maljimar is tempting at 33-1 off a fine third in a 3 7/8-mile handicap chase at Cheltenham on Dec. 11, but the selection is the 11-year-old David Pipe-trained Comply Or Die.

The winner of this race two years ago, Comply Or Die was second in last year's renewal when he led jumping the last fence only to be outstayed by Mon Mome. He has been unplaced in his two preps this season, but was even farther behind in his two Grand National trials last year. Timmy Murphy, who was aboard in his last two Grand Nationals, retains the ride on the 16-1 Comply Or Die, who at 159 carries two pounds less than Mon Mome. Last year he carried six pounds more.

w HRTV will televise the Grand National live. Post time is set for 11:15 a.m. Eastern.