Alan King has made no secret of the fact that he is desperate to see some rainfall at Aintree racecourse in the days leading up to Saturday’s John Smith‘s Grand National, and he has some cause for optimism with forecasters suggesting an unsettled spell in the five days leading up to the race set to be watched live by more than 600 million television viewers worldwide, writes Elliot Slater.
The Barbury Castle-based handler is set to saddle the well supported West End Rocker in the four-and-a-half-mile marathon contest, and along with a significant percentage of other trainers with horses in the 40-runner field would like to see easier underfoot conditions for his contender whose best efforts invariably come when the mud is flying.
King recently took the 10-year-old on an awayday to Brian Meehan’s Manton gallops where the horse worked well on a non-jarring surface to put the finishing touches to his preparation for the daunting challenge that sets the Liverpool event apart from any other on the globe. Wayne Hutchinson has been confirmed aboard the horse who won in fine style last time out when beating the former Irish Grand National winner and now retired Niche Market in a stamina-sapping renewal of the three-and-a-quarter-mile Becher Chase over the Aintree circuit back in December.
Having taken the decision to miss the Cheltenham Festival with a view to having the horse fresher than many of his rivals, all King now needs is some rain to ease the ground, and with the going currently described as ‘Good, Good to Soft in places’ it is by no means beyond the bounds of possibility that there might be enough juice underfoot to see West End Rocker putting up a bold display and give those currently supporting him at odds of (Betting Odds Grand national) 16/1 something to really shout about. Aintree Grand National betting suggests that the favourite doesn’t always win and sometimes it is worth thinking outside the box.