Scottish trainer Andrew Parker is desperate for his talented staying chaser to get a run in next week’s John Smith’s Grand National at Aintree on April 9 but knows it is ‘touch and go’ as to whether or not his charge will make the starting line up.
Currently number 56 on the list for a race that is likely to have just 40 runners, Merigo needs plenty of horses above him in the weights to be taken out of the four-and-a-half mile spectacular to allow him to make the starting tape. He has been allotted 10st 1lb and the hopes of the Parker team appear to rest on the ground drying out, discouraging the significant number of soft ground specialists in the field from giving it a go and those looking at the Grand National online betting should bear this in mind.
Merigo won last year’s Scottish Grand National at Ayr in fine style on good ground and seems at his best on a decent surface. The Raymond Anderson Green-owned gelding was duly raised 10lbs for his nine-length defeat of Gone To Lunch but even that jump up the ratings has failed to see him listed high enough to be guaranteed a run at Aintree.
Parker has entered Merigo for the Ayr marathon in late April once again and would have the consolation of bidding for a repeat victory if he misses out on his chance to send the 10-year-old to Merseyside next weekend. The Pistolet Bleu gelding, (a best priced 33/1 shot in the ante-post list for the big race), has already had a taste of the daunting National fences this term having run in the Listed Becher Handicap chase at the track in November, where he was going nicely in behind the leaders when falling at the 11th in the race won by the popular veteran Hello Bud.