Minella Rocco declared a non-runner in Grand National

Racing manager says ‘it’s purely ground related, he’s just not as good in soft-heavy’

 Derek O’Connor riding Minella Rocco to win the National Hunt Steeple Chase Challenge Cup at the 2016 Cheltenham festival. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Derek O’Connor riding Minella Rocco to win the National Hunt Steeple Chase Challenge Cup at the 2016 Cheltenham festival. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

 

Top-weight Minella Rocco has been declared a non-runner in the Grand National at Aintree on Saturday on account of the ground.

Jonjo O’Neill’s charge filled the runner-up spot in last year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup and pulled out of this year’s renewal on the morning of the race due to the prevailing testing conditions at Prestbury Park.

He was a best-priced 20-1 for the world’s most famous steeplechase before being withdrawn on Friday morning.

Frank Berry, racing manager to owner JP McManus, said: “It’s purely ground related, he’s just not as good in soft-heavy ground.

“It’s a real shame as he’s been aimed at this for a long time, but there’s no point him running on that ground.”

Minella Rocco could be rerouted to the Coral Punchestown Gold Cup on April 25th.

Berry added: “He’s entered at Punchestown and I’d like to think he’d run there now, but the ground will have to start drying up soon.

“It’s just not going to dry up in time for him (at Aintree), unfortunately.”

Minella Rocco’s defection means first reserve Thunder And Roses, who won the 2015 Irish Grand National, is guaranteed a run for trainer Mouse Morris.

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