Rain turns National going soft

West End Rocker - will like it soft

Heavy rain over the past 48 hours is threatening the participation of one of this season’s nearly horses in the Grand National. At the same time, it has enhanced the prospects for some of the other horses in Saturday’s race.

With persistent rain having fallen overnight on Sunday/Monday, and more possible during the rest of the week, the advance going report which had been good, was changed to soft, good to soft in places. Clerk of the Course Andrew Tulloch walked the track yesterday and reported afterwards, “We have had 11mm so far bit it is still raining and is expected to rain into the late afternoon/early evening and then peter out. Temperatures are getting quite low, down to 1C or zero so we are not going to lose a lot of moisture.”

This was disappointing news for the connections of Planet Of Sound, who has been placed in both his runs this season. The Philip Hobbs trained gelding was second to Carruthers in the Hennessy by coming home third in Kempton’s Racing Plus Chase behind Nacarat and Hectors Choice in February.

Owner Charles Lloyd-Baker said, “If it went soft we would have to think seriously about missing the race. In that event, he’d go to Punchestown where he has won previously. I know it has rained at Aintree today, but if they have a couple of dry days we hopefully should be alright.” Coming back next year would not be out of the question, but by then Planet Of Sound will be 11, and you would think that he’d have a better chance this year given suitable condition.

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Two horses for which softer ground is welcome are Giles Cross and West End Rocker, and both are now second favourite with at least two bookmakers behind Synchronised. If West End Rocker goes on to win on Saturday he’ll become the first horse to win both the Becher chase and the National in the same season.

His trainer Alan King was delighted that rain had come, saying, “The more rain that falls the better for him so I am pleased to hear that they have had some rain and the forecast looks encouraging.”

The Met Office confirmed further showers were likely in the North West during the week, but certainly wasn’t going so far as to say whether they would fall over Aintree. With the change in going which has already occurred and uncertainty about the weather for the next few days, I’d suggest no further betting now until Saturday morning.

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