Go Ballistic is favourite


GO BALLISTIC yesterday leapt to the top of the Martell Grand National betting. Ladbrokes and William Hill both made Go Ballistic 8 to 1 favourite from 10 to 1 after John O'Shea confirmed the Gold Cup fourth will go to Aintree, where he has been set to carry 9st 8lb in the big race.

"Go Ballistic ran by far the best trial for the National that we have seen this season and has a favourite's chance off such an attractive handicap mark," explained Ladbrokes spokesman Ian Wassell.

But Lord Gyllene continues to head the market with Coral and the Tote, quoted as short as 7 to 1 by the latter firm.

O'Shea admitted the Grand National was the obvious target for Go Ballistic. "It wasn't a difficult decision really," the trainer said. "We just wanted to wait a week to make sure he was fine after Cheltenham and would be ready to go.

"He looks well in and with luck on his side and a clear round he has got to be thereabouts. I think he will cope with the build up as his temperament isn't a problem and he is a pretty relaxed horse.

"By and large he is a good jumper. They are unique fences but the way he's ridden from behind should mean he'll have every chance to get his jumping together. ,And the trip will not be a problem.

Mick Fitzgerald will resume his partnership with Go Ballistic at Aintree, having forfeited the mount to Tony Dobbin in the Gdd Cup due to injury.

Having won on Rough Quest last year he will be aiming to become the first jockey to triumph in successive seasons since Brian Fletcher won on Red Rum in 1973 and 1974.

Whether or not his mount runs from out of the handicap hinges on Master Oats, on whose participation Kim Bailey will leave a decision until the last minute.

In the absence of the 1995 Gold Cup winner the big race weights will rise by a minimum of 15lb. "Trainers call me all the time to see if he runs because we are keeping the weights down," said Bailey.

"But I will have to wait until the last possible moment to see if the ground is suitable and, with a 48 hour declaration, that would mean leaving him in if the ground is good and heavy rain is forecast."

. Champion jockey Charlie Swan has been booked to ride Papillon in Easter Monday's Jameson Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse.

The six year old will be aiming to give trainer Ted Walsh another big race success after the Triumph Hurdle victory of Commanche Court at Cheltenham. However, Walsh is also considering the Power Gold Cup at Fairyhouse for Papillon if that race cuts up.

Dorans Pride heads the entries for the Power Gold Cup but his trainer Michael Hourigan said yesterday he will not make a decision on whether the Gold Cup third runs at Fairyhouse until later in the week.