Today, at the last declaration stage for the 2018 Grand National which takes place on Saturday 14th at 5.15pm, trainer Jonjo O’Neill has withdrawn the top weight runner, Minella Rocco.
Minella Rocco was due to shoulder 11-10 but he will now miss the race. It’s an unfortunate turn of events for connections who had been anticipating a solid performance from the eight year old since bypassing the Cheltenham Festival last month.
His trainer, Jonjo O’Neill, was very keen on his prospects in the race and had no concerns about him on the jumping front.
He even stated: “He’d be a classier horse than Don’t Push It, who would never have been second in the Gold Cup.”
But with the rain seemingly never ending, the Grand National course has moved to Soft, Heavy in places and it was deemed to be too much for the JP McManus owned chaser.
O’Neill said today: “It’s very frustrating to say the least but, after talking the matter over with the horse’s connections, we have reached the decision that Minella Rocco will miss the race on account of the ground.”
Ordinarily if the top weight is withdrawn all other runners see their weight rise and today is no different so the weights carried by horses in the race tomorrow will be altered and go up by 1lb due to his absence which means that Blaklion now goes off in the number one spot and his weight go up to 11-10.
Replacing Minella Rocco will be the first reserve, the Mouse Morris trained Thunder And Roses who will be ridden by JJ SLevin.
Thunder And Roses won the 2015 Irish Grand National under jockey Katie Walsh and was ridden in last year’s renewal by JJ Slevin who brought him home in 4th spot. Connections will be hoping that the pair go a few places better on Saturday but it will be tricky as the horses hasn’t won a race in bnearly three years!
Thunder And Roses is owned by Gigginstown which takes their tally of Grand National runners up to five: Tiger Roll, Alpha Des Obeaux, Valseur Lido, Road To Riches and Thunder And Roses.