Apr 9, 728 days ago

Aintree set to favour fast ground horses

Aintree set to favour fast ground horses

With a mostly dry week forecast, the going for the Grand National on Saturday looks likely to be good. Officials began watering the Mildmay course at the start of the week and are monitoring the situation on the National course.

That is bad news for the soft ground horses and is worth bearing in mind when studying the form for the big race. The conditions look like going against Unioniste while connections of Many Clouds and Monbeg Dude would have liked more rain by the weekend.

Drying ground is good news for trainer Jim Culloty who saddles top weight Lord Windermere as well as the fancied Spring Heeled. Lord Windermere won the 2014 Cheltenham Gold Cup on good ground but was unable to act in the sticky conditions this year and was pulled up by Davy Russell.

Culloty subsequently decided that it was time for a change of jockey on the nine-year-old, although Russell misses the race through injury in any case. Robbie McNamara takes over on Saturday, having ridden the horse once in his novice days. L’Escargot was the last former Gold Cup winner to be successful in the Grand National. He won at Cheltenham in 1970 and 1971 and won the National on his fourth attempt in 1975.

Spring Heeled has been aimed at the Grand National all season and Nick Scholfield takes the ride on the eight-year-old. He beat Cause Of Causes in last year’s Kim Muir Chase at the festival and has only raced once this year, finishing fourth at Fairyhouse in February. Three of his four career victories have come on good ground.

Gordon Elliott has also expressed delight at the prospect of good ground this weekend for Cause Of Causes, winner of the four-mile National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham. He has won on all types of ground, his most valuable win coming in the Ladbroke Hurdle at Ascot in heavy ground in 2012. Paul Carberry has been booked to ride the gelding and is expected to adopt his usual waiting tactics.

Peter Bowen will also be pleased by the drying conditions for Scottish National winner Al Co. He beat Godsmejudge on good to soft ground at Ayr last April and four of his six career victories have been in the spring. The going was good to soft last year when Pineau De Re beat Balthazar King and the favourite Shutthefrontdoor won the Irish Grand National in similar conditions last spring.

 

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