Racing: Double Silk in a scare

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The Independent Online
AN unforeseen obstacle, a Volvo car, almost ended the Grand National prospects of Double Silk only days before the race. The car pulled out in front of a horsebox bringing the joint-favourite back to his Wells stables after a gallop at the weekend.

There was a collision, but just a minor one, and the horse escaped injury.

Already, it appears that the smallest Grand National field for 14 years will line up on Saturday. Only 43 horses stood their ground at yesterday's entry stage.

More defections are certain when the final declarations are made on Friday morning. The Aintree contest could have its lowest representation since 30 went to post in 1980.

There was rain and snow at the course yesterday and the forecast is for unsettled weather for the rest of the week. The ground was good to soft, with soft patches. If the going became too testing the participation of the Gold Cup winner, The Fellow, would be in doubt.

Into The Red, cut to 20-1 (from 33-1) with Ladbrokes yesterday, will be ridden by John White, the jockey who 'won' last year's void race on Esha Ness. Other jockey plans confirmed yesterday were Charlie Swan on Laura's Beau and Conor O'Dwyer on Bishops Hall.

Among the 11 withdrawals yesterday were Blazing Walker, the Martin Pipe trio Chatam, Fragrant Dawn and Capability Brown and the Irish-trained The Committee.