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John Smith's Grand National - 14th April 2012 

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Viking Blond Team Need Rain for their Charge
29/03/12

Nigel Twiston-Davies has had a relatively quiet time of things over the last few months with many of his better horses needing give in the ground to show their best form, something that has been in woefully short supply due to the abnormally dry winter. Viking Blond, an intended runner in the John Smith's Grand National at Aintree on April 14, is just such a horse, writes Elliot Slater.

Viking Blond
© Racehorse Photos

Viking Blond

Clearly at his best when the ground is on the soft side of good, and ideally suited by testing conditions, Viking Blond is unlikely to encounter anything of the sort at Aintree as England basks in unusually high temperatures for time of year of around 20 degrees, allied to a noticeable lack of rain since the start of February. Those looking at betting odds Grand National may have second thoughts about backing him because of this.

But Twiston-Davies can rightly point to the fact that his charge is still capable of running well on good to soft ground, as he showed earlier this term when staying on very well to outpoint the subsequent Cheltenham Festival participant Alfie Spinner at Chepstow in October.

Of rather more concern to the Naunton handler is whether or not Viking Bond will actually get a run, being currently listed 51st of the 59 entries in a race where only 40 horses will face the starter. This doubt is undoubtedly factored into the current Aintree Grand National betting odds on offer for the gelded son of Varese who is generally offered at up to 66/1. If 11 horses above him do come out of the great race than Twiston-Davies will be able to run the decent staying chaser, but if not, he will just have to wait until next year and hope he can improve the horse sufficiently to be high enough in the weights not to have such worries to contend with.


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