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Byline: Garry Owen

JINXED National trainer Paul Nicholls, who has FIVE runners in the National, was unhappy with the ground after Kadarann and Cenkos finished third and fourth in the Melling Chase over the Mildmay course.

Nicholls, who has never had a horse finish better than sixth in 17 attempts, said: "It's soft ground, that is it basically. They have over-watered it and it will affect the chances of my horses."

Connections of Gingembre are also worried about the ground riding `dead'.

Gingembre, trained by Lavinia Taylor at Hungerford, is a leading fancy at around 12- 1 and will be ridden by Andrew Thornton.

He is a classy staying chaser, having won the Scottish Grand National in 2001 as well as twice finishing second in the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup.

But there is a feeling at the stable that he might not be able to do himself justice on sticky going.

"I understand there were some comments made that the ground was riding rather dead," said the trainer's husband John Taylor.

The lightly-raced Killusty has been supported down to 14-1 this week, but his rider Norman Williamson has his concerns.

"I'm hopeful, but he's only had one race in a year. It doesn't bother me and Charlie Egerton will have him as fit as a flea. But he's a bit of a novice and a difficult ride," he said.

"He can be a bit head strong so I'm hoping if I get a clear run to Becher's he'll run a good race, but that will be my biggest worry."

Williamson, seeking his first win in the National, picked two against the field. "It's an open race but a classy race. I fancy Ad Hoc and Monty's Pass. It's difficult to get away from the top ones in the betting," he added.

Going is good (good to soft patches) on the National track.

Coral bet: 7-1 Ad Hoc, 9 Shotgun Willy, Youlneverwalkalone, 10 Chives, 11 Gingembre, Iris Bleu, 12 Killusty, 14 Montys Pass, 16 Maximize, Gunner Welburn, 20 Carbury Cross, 25 Behrajan, Bindaree, 28 Royal Predica, Goguenard, 33 Amberleigh House, Montifault, Supreme Glory, 40 bar.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Apr 5, 2003
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