Racing: Rough ready for the National fray

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The uncertainty over whether the Grand National favourite, Rough Quest, will take his place in the line-up for next Saturday's race, is over. "He runs," Terry Casey, his trainer, announced yesterday. "He's in very good form. I'm never confident but I've never had him better.

"He's been a fantastic servant, with his handicap wins and his second in the Gold Cup, and the main thing is that he is OK - I'd rather I got hurt than him."

The opposition to Rough Quest continues to dwindle. Miinnehoma, winner of the race two years ago but pulled up at Aintree last year, may be targeted at alternative engagements according to Martin Pipe, his trainer. "Miinnehoma is entered in another race at Aintree or he might wait for the Scottish National at Ayr," Pipe said.

The Nicholashayne trainer may still have at least three runners in the race. "Chatam, Encore Un Peu and Riverside Boy are all likely to run," he said. "David Bridgwater may ride Encore Un Peu - it depends on what the ground is like."

Ground considerations also mean that Jenny Pitman is delaying a decision on Lusty Light's participation. She is also considering Thursday's Martell Cup for the gelding who fell at the first fence in last year's National.

Mrs Pitman ran six horses in the National last year, winning it with Royal Athlete, but she could rely solely on Superior Finish this year, for whom dual National-winning jockey Richard Dunwoody has been booked.

The participation of Dextra Dove, who ripped off three shoes in training on Friday, will be decided after a schooling session on Thursday morning.

Tony Dobbin is likely to miss the ride on Tartan Tyrant after dislocating a shoulder in a fall at Kelso on Friday. Paul Carberry is the man who will deputise.

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