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"We will be starting on soft" - Testing ground expected for Grand National meeting

Last updated: 06 Apr 2024
Jon Vine 06 Apr 2024
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  • Clerk of the course at Aintree, Sulekha Varma provides a going update ahead of the Grand National meeting
  • The ground at Aintree is currently soft, heavy in places
aintree rain
Rain at Aintree. (Getty)

Next week's Grand National Festival is expected to feature heavy ground, according to clerk of the course Sulekha Varma.

Britain has come out of its wettest winter on record and the rain has continued into the spring. The ground during last month's Cheltenham Festival was heavy, although official going reports recorded it as soft, and meetings have been cancelled throughout this week on account of the poor weather.

The 2024 Grand National will be run at Aintree next Saturday and soft ground specialists are already being backed. Ahead of today's ITV action, Aintree's course clerk Sulekha Varma provided an update on the current state of the ground on Merseyside.

"As it stands, we are soft on the Mildmay and hurdles courses, and we're soft, heavy in places on the Grand National course." Varma told ITV Racing this morning.

"The last few days haven't been too bad. We look like we're going to get a drier weekend, but with the storm coming in, it's getting quite windy and we're going to have some showers."

"There's going to be another band of heavy rain through the early part of next week. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the three days of racing, are looking unsettled. I wouldn't want to guarantee that they'd be completely dry but it's not looking quite as bad as the early part of the week."

"I expect we will be starting on soft on Thursday, possibly with some heavy in places. If it stays dry over those three days and we get a bit of decent weather, then it could dry out and we might get good-to-soft on Saturday, but with so much moisture already in the soil profile, if we got 2mm or 3mm of rain, it would very quickly take us back."

Some in the media have speculated that there's a chance the entire meeting could be called off due to the state of the ground. When asked about this possibility, Varma didn't seem too worried.

"There are no concerns as it stands (About the meeting being cancelled). Aintree is a course that takes water well, we've got a very permeable soil structure and then also a comprehensive drainage system. It's taken the rain well."

A runaway winner of the Welsh Grand National on heavy ground in December, Nassalam has been backed into as short as 16/1 for Saturday's Grand National over the past 24 hours. The latest Grand National betting can be found here on our website.

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