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Racing: Bailey plays weighting game with Master

Master Oats, top weight with 11st10lb, may be left in the Martell Grand National at the final declaration stage on Thursday week, leaving only 11 of the other 53 entries able to run off their true handicap weights, writes Ian Davies.

Kim Bailey, his trainer, will not decide until the last minute whether to run Master Oats at Aintree on Saturday week. The horse runs only if Bailey considers the ground soft enough.

Bailey said: "Trainers call me all the time to see if he runs because we are keeping the weights down. But I will wait to see if the ground is suitable. With a 48-hour declaration, that would mean leaving him in if the ground is good and heavy rain is forecast. I'm praying for rain."

Tom Tate reckons Master Oats's presence would boost the chance of Lo Stregone (10st4lb), one of the few set to carry their true handicap weight. The trainer said: "I hope Master Oats runs. It will be a blessing for us. It's strange how one horse can make such a difference to the race."

Lo Stregone is back on track for Aintree after flopping behind Suny Bay in the Greenalls Grand National Trial at Haydock last month. Tate added: "He was off-colour at Haydock as a post-race blood-test indicated, but we are hoping for the best now.

Go Ballistic (9st8lb) was yesterday made favourite for the National in two lists after John O'Shea, his trainer, confirmed the horse a National runner. Ladbrokes and William Hill made Go Ballistic 8-1 favourite from 10-1.


Horse C H L T

Lord Gyllene 9-1 9-1 9-1 7-1

Go Ballistic 10-1 8-1 8-1 10-1

Suny Bay 14-1 14-1 14-1 14-1

Antonin 14-1 14-1 14-1 16-1

Avro Anson 16-1 16-1 16-1 16-1

Lo Stregone 16-1 16-1 12-1 14-1

Time For A Run 16-1 12-1 12-1 12-1

Wylde Hide 14-1 16-1 16-1 16-1

C - Coral, H - Hills, - L - Ladbrokes, T - Tote