>> The words ‘Grand National’ and ‘heat wave’ have rarely featured in the same sentence. But with just over a fortnight to go until the most famous jumps race in the world, the folk at Aintree have been taking steps to cope with the warm weather currently engulfing the Costa Del Sefton.
The hard ground making falls more dangerous, the heat sapping the horses’ stamina and the sweat playing havoc with fake tan on many of the race-goers are just some of the concerns resulting from the very un-March-like weather. Clerk of the course at Aintree has taken steps to address at least two of those issues. Andrew Tulloch says the ground is currently good to soft and he hopes to keep it that way for the day of the race thanks to the course’s irrigation system. They’ll also use a ‘misting machine’ in the wash down area to keep the runners cool. The horses should at least be in a healthy state on Grand National day, which is more than can most likely be said about some of those fake tan jobs. The Daily Telegraph
>> On to more Grand National news, this time the Irish Grand National. As ever, the Irish version of jumps chaos takes place on Easter Monday and it points towards a contest every bit as open as you’d expect from a National. Allee Garde and Groody Hill have been chalked up as 10/1 joint favourites, but it really is tighter than an elephant in skinny jeans. Irish Grand National Betting
>> David Pipe has issued an upbeat assessment of The Package ahead of the National, albeit one that’s not especially upbeat and warned against backing the horse for the race just yet. The nine year old ran creditably when finishing fourth in the JLT Speciality Handicap Chase at the Festival and although Pipe said the horse is still on course for the National, he “has taken a little longer to get over his race than we would have hoped.” The Package made it about halfway around the Grand National of 2010 before unseating his rider and is an 25/1 shot this time around.
In far more decisive news, Pipe says Junior (11/1) is coming along well in his tilt at the Aintree showpiece. “I am pleased to report that the preparation of Junior is coming along well and he remains firmly on course for Aintree.” Pipe wrote on his website, the place to go for all your Pipe yard news. Racing Post
>> Always Right, the obvious selection for people who pick their horses based on the permanent state of their partners or spouses, is recovering well following an operation and is on-course to take his place in the Grand National. The John Wade trained and owned ten year old was only a length backed when finishing third in last year’s Scottish Grand National, but after being pulled up in his two outings so far this season, when under the horsey surgeon’s knife to correct a soft palate problem. Everything’s gone well and after a spell of eating grapes and reading Heat in horsey hospital, he’s back training and Wade reckons “he’s fit and well now.” Always Right is currently a 25/1 for the National. The Yorkshire Post
>> After being handed a unnecessary six day ban for a minor infringement whilst trying to avoid catastrophe during the farcical closing stages of the Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, Andrew Lynch has had trainer Henry De Bromhead come out and bat for him. The trainer of Sizing Europe summed up the feelings of many when calling the suspension “absolutely disgraceful” and rightly pointed out that in the face of absurd incompetence from the people charged with safety in that Champion Chase, Lynch “is the one that saved everybody’s neck.” The Irish Times
Things are looking better for Lynch however as he has been handed the ride on well-fancied 16/1 shot, Treacle in the Grand National. The horse and jockey combination teamed up to finish a staying on second in the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas and a creditable third in the Irish Hennessy has put him in contention for the National Trainer, Tom Taaffe is pretty delighted to have him, saying he’s “delighted to have him.” The Scottish Herald
– Grand National Betting