Mudlarks may be thwarted by drier weather

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A BIG shake-up in the ante-post betting for Saturday's Grand National is certain unless significant rain softens the turf within the next 24 hours. Edmond is just one of several leading contenders who will be pulled out of the race if there is no cut in the ground.

With drier weather forecast for later this week, Edmond could well be withdrawn at today's confirmation stage. Henry Daly, who trains the mud-loving Welsh National winner, expressed fears yesterday that the going at Aintree next Saturday is unlikely to suit his charge.

"They are forecasting rain today and tomorrow at Aintree, but from Tuesday onwards it is meant to be dry. It looks like the ground will not be soft and it's highly unlikely that Edmond will run,'' Daly said.

Following forecasts last Thursday that heavy rain could soon affect the Liverpool area bookmakers began cutting the odds against horses like Edmond and Young Kenny, another who is best in the mud. Young Kenny was 10-1 with Ladbrokes yesterday, with Edmond on 16-1.

If both of these were pulled out, along with a number of outsiders, bookmakers would tighten drastically the prices of the favourites, Bobbyjo and Star Traveller.

Odds for Micko's Dream plummeted yesterday following extensive publicity over the eight-year-old, which is owned by a syndicate of Irish prison officers. Ladbrokes played their get-out-of-jail card early by cutting him from 16-1 to 10-1. The firm also shortened Martin Pipe's Dark Stranger to 16-1.

Ian Renton, Aintree's clerk of the course, said yesterday that forecast rain could well turn the going "on the soft side" but added that drying weather is likely for the second half of this week. "We had 4mm of rain overnight and the going remains unchanged," he said. "It's good on the Grand National course and good - good to firm in places - on the Mildmay and hurdles courses."

GRAND NATIONAL: Latest odds (Ladbrokes): 6-1 Bobbyjo, 7-1 Star Traveller, 10-1 Micko's Dream, Young Kenny, 14-1 Djeddah, The Last Fling, 16-1 Dark Stranger, Edmond, Red Marauder, 20-1 Cavalero, 25-1 Earthmover, Listen Timmy, Niki Dee, Papillon, 33-1 Addington Boy, Buck Rogers, Escartefigue, Feels Like Gold, Flaked Oats, Kendal Cavalier, Lucky Town, Merry People, Royal Predica, Sparky Gayle, Torduff Express, 40-1 Brave Highlander, Call It A Day, Choisty, Esprit De Cotte, Hollybank Buck, Luzcadou, Suny Bay, Village King, 50-1 others