War Of Attrition, the gamble of the race, will miss the John Smith's Grand National on Saturday. Mouse Morris, his trainer, disclosed last night that he is "just not 100 per cent happy with the horse" and that he would now be represented by Hear The Echo instead. "At least we have a good second string to our bow," Morris said. "But it's a bugger all right. As always the hardest part is telling the owner, but he's a good man for that."
It is not the first time Morris has had to break bad news to Michael O'Leary about his 2006 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, who was sidelined for 22 months with a leg injury before returning last autumn. Morris had candidly viewed War Of Attrition as well handicapped, and the horse had been backed from 33-1 to 12-1 in the past week. Davy Russell now switches to Hear The Echo, winner of last year's Irish National.
Drying conditions at Aintree have prompted Ruby Walsh to confirm he will ride My Will. Walsh has won the race on Papillon and Hedgehunter, and Coral immediately laid a bet of £15,000 at 10-1 for My Will, cutting him to 8-1.
Nine horses were scratched yesterday, notably Roll Along, sixth in the Gold Cup. Three Irish entries also drop out – Afistfullofdollars, Tumbling Dice and Conna Castle – along with Hobbs Hill, Always Waining, King Harald, Ice Tea and Hot Weld. Only the top 40 of 74 candidates are guaranteed a start. In theory, the cut comes after Kelami on 10st 5lb, but last night's news showed there are still plenty of obstacles to overcome before the ones waiting on Saturday.