Rocker gamble rolls on with rain forecast for Aintree

The last of the 16/1 is disappearing fast as the Alan King-trained West End Rocker is clipped to a general offer of 14/1 in the Grand National odds to carry off Saturday’s feature John Smith’s Grand National, a contest for which his odds will likely shorten further if the rain forecast for Merseyside comes in time to ease the ground, writes Elliot Slater.

Together with a significant number of other entrants for ‘the world’s greatest steeplechase’, West End Rocker appears at his best when he can get his toe in, indeed hock deep ground holds no terrors for the 10-year-old as he demonstrated with his demolition of the opposition over the daunting Aintree fences in December. He ploughed through trench-like conditions to slam the now retired former Irish Grand National winner, Niche Market, by no less than 22 lengths to establish himself as a leading contender for honours in the big one four months later.

Last season’s winner of the Grade 3 Classic Chase at Warwick over 29 furlongs, and also successful at Newbury on his previous outing on a much sounder surface, when landing a competitive 27 furlong handicap chase from the decent Cornish Sett, the gelded son of Grand Plaisir has been lightly campaigned this term, with a view to arriving as fresh and well as possible at Aintree for a crack at the most daunting race on the calendar.

King has made absolutely no secret of his desire to see a downpour on the Liverpool track, and with BBC forecasters suggesting there could be some significant showers amongst the sunny spells in the four days leading up to Saturday’s feature contest, it might just be that King’s wish is granted and West End Rocker will head to the starting tapes with a serious chance of finishing in the money.

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