Alan King’s West End Rocker, a leading fancy for the John Smith’s Grand National at Aintree on April 14, looks more than likely to now go directly to the famous marathon contest without a prep race as drying ground has almost certainly scuppered the plan to run him at Doncaster in the Grimthorpe Chase, the race that was to have been his final run before the Liverpool contest, writes Elliot Slater.
[Racecard West End Rocker]
King had entered the 10-year-old for the Doncaster contest and also at Newbury in the Greatwood Gold Cup, but with the Berkshire track definitely serving up ground that is far too fast for the confirmed soft ground performer, only Doncaster can possibly fit the bill and all the signs are that the Town Moor circuit will also dry up too much to allow the listed Betfred Becher Handicap Chase winner to take his chance and get a racecourse outing under his belt before attempting to justify current ante-post odds of up to 18/1 in ‘the world’s greatest steeplechase’. Those with a 2012 Grand National free bet will be wondering if he will be in proper shape for the event.
The idea of an outing at the Cheltenham Festival has already been cast aside by King and the gelding’s joint-owners Barry Winfield and Tim Leadbetter, as the son of Grand Plaisir has never run particularly well at the undulating Gloucestershire track, so the master of Barbury Castle has already resigned himself to going straight to Aintree and doing all the necessary preparation of the horse on the gallops at home.
Even though the ground at Aintree is often described as ‘good’, trainers of horses who normally would only race on an easier surface tend to let their charges take their chance in the Grand National as the race takes place on fresh turf with a deep covering of grass that has often been watered to take any real sting out of the ground.