Monday 18 December 2017

Forecasters leave Aintree confident of dry Grand National

Keith Hamer

Conditions could be set fair for the Aintree Grand National, with no rain forecast for the second half of next week.

The prospect of dry weather for the three-day meeting that starts on Thursday is giving officials at Aintree reason to be optimistic.

"We can expect a bit more rain on Monday and Tuesday," said clerk of the course Andrew Tulloch. "But it looks like it's going to settle down a little after that.

"The ground might still be on the easy side for the meeting, but at the moment they are saying Monday and Tuesday is the last rain we are looking at."

The going is described on the National course as soft, heavy in places at the Canal Turn and Valentine's, while the Mildmay and Hurdle tracks are soft, good to soft in places.

Trainer Colin Tizzard will be hoping the ground does not dry out too much for Joe Lively.

"He is most definitely heading for the National," he said. "He found things happening too fast in the William Hill Trophy at Cheltenham but his run before was cracking form behind Taranis.

"I hope the ground is soft on the day and four-and-a-half miles will suit him down to the ground.

"The weight (11st 6lb) is the only thing that could be an issue but we can't alter that. The distance will suit and he has been a good, solid jumper all his life, so that will play to his strengths. We will find out if he can carry that weight.

"He has been slightly overlooked in the betting and I think that is because of his weight.

"He has won nearly £250,000 in prize money -- he is a very good horse. Even at Cheltenham two weeks ago, he was staying on at the end -- he can keep that gallop up and there is no doubt that he will keep that gallop up for four and a half miles.

"We are going to go there and sit in mid-division. We tried to make the running in his novice days and it worked fine but we tried it last time at Cheltenham and it didn't work.

"We will sit in and let the rest go on a bit then have a good race in the second half, hopefully."

Irish Independent

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