Drier times ahead for Aintree

Conditions could be set fair for the John Smith's Grand National with no rain forecast for the second half of next week.

Conditions could be set fair for the John Smith's Grand National with no rain forecast for the second half of next week.

The prospect of dry weather for the three-day meeting that starts on Thursday is giving officials at Aintree reason to be optimistic.

Rain was expected overnight into Saturday and after a bright Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, the track could see showers before the weather settles down.

"Rain was due over Friday into Saturday, but Sunday should be a nice day and we can expect a bit more rain on Monday and Tuesday," said clerk of the course Andrew Tulloch.

"It looks like it's going to settle down a little after that, fingers crossed.

"The ground might still be on the easy side for the meeting, but at the moment they are saying Monday and Tuesday is the last rain we are looking at."

The going is described on the National course as soft, heavy in places at the Canal Turn and Valentine's, while the Mildmay and Hurdle tracks are soft, good to soft in places.

Colin Tizzard will be hoping the ground does not dry out too much for his Grand National runner Joe Lively.

"He is most definitely heading for the National," said the Dorset trainer.

"He found things happening too fast in the William Hill Trophy at Cheltenham last time but his run before was cracking form behind Taranis.

"I hope the ground is soft on the day and four and a half miles will suit him down to the ground.

"The weight (11st 6lb) is the only thing that could be an issue but we can't alter that.

"The distance will suit and he has been a good, solid jumper all his life, so that will play to his strengths. We will find out if he can carry that weight.

"To be fair to him he has been slightly overlooked in the betting and I think that is because of his weight.

"He has won nearly a quarter of a million pounds in prize money - he is a very good horse.

"Even at Cheltenham two weeks ago, he was staying on at the end - he can keep that gallop up and there is no doubt that he will keep that gallop up for four and a half miles.

"We just backed off a bit after his last run and let him freshen up.

"We do what we think is right for him and he seems to be in lovely form.

"We are going to go there and sit in mid-division. We tried to make the running in his novice days and it worked fine but we tried it last time at Cheltenham and it didn't work.

"We will sit in and let the rest go on a bit then have a good race in the second half, hopefully."

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