Surface To Air targets Grand National
Chris Bealby took Surface To Air on a ramble round the Lincolnshire countryside on Monday as part of his preparation for the John Smith's Grand National.
The 10-year-old is on course for the Aintree showpiece on Saturday week, although he only returned to action at Market Rasen earlier this month after suffering from tendon problems following his victory in the Summer National at Uttoxeter in June 2008.
He is now in line to be Bealby's first runner in the Grand National and the Grantham-based handler is certainly varying the horse's training regime.
“He's enjoyed the sunshine and he'll do another bit of work on Wednesday. Everything's going as it should, touch wood,” said Bealby.
“He needed that first run back after nearly three years off the track. Obviously he didn't have the speed to cope with those hurdlers on a sharp track, but staying is what it's all about with him.
“Hopefully it will be a different matter at Aintree. It will be great to get there really as he's had tendon trouble on and off since he won the Summer National.
“It has been difficult as it's been so dry everywhere, but he jumps twice a week over various obstacles.
“We haven't as yet jumped an Aintree-style one, but we've got own fences that are full size. We might just chuck a bit of fir tree and birch on. He's a good jumper and enjoys it.
“He's an intelligent horse and seems to take to most things we ask him to do.
“The plan is for Tom Messenger to ride him. He usually does but Noel Fehily won the Summer National on him as Tom was suspended.”
Timmy Murphy is looking forward to teaming up with the David Pipe-trained Comply Or Die for the fourth time in the race having won it in 2008, finished second in 2009 and 12th last year.
“He's come down to a reasonable mark now again. It's taken two years since he won at Aintree,” said Murphy. “He ran a good race in Warwick the time before last and then he went back for the Eider and again the ground was terrible that day. He had 11st 12lb and it proved too much for him.
“He likes a bit of nice ground and if it had been nice ground that day, I think he would have run a nice race and we would be a bit more positive going to Aintree.
“He's in great form and he will love the ground. He's been round there before and it's fingers crossed.”