As expected, Big Buck's made it a world record 17 consecutive wins over hurdles with victory in the Liverpool Hurdle to raise the curtain on the Aintree Grand National Festival. StanJames.com spokesman Rory Jiwani says, "Big Buck's proved he is still top of the tree over three miles over hurdles and had little trouble brushing off his rivals at Aintree. He could face stiffer opposition next season though, and we make him 13/8 to win at fifth World Hurdle at Cheltenham next year.
"While that result was expected, Follow The Plan's win in the Betfred Bowl certainly was not. Oliver McKiernan's charge won the Guinness Gold Cup at Punchestown a year ago and took his second Grade 1 at an SP of 50/1 ahead of Burton Port and Hunt Ball who performed admirably on his first run against top-class opposition. A great result for the bookies with favourite Riverside Theatre pulled up by Barry Geraghty after he travelled poorly early on."
1/4 Odds Aintree racecard
"Alan King's favourite Grumeti won the 4-y-o hurdle and is now 25/1 from 50/1 for next year's StanJames Champion Hurdle. Runner-up Countrywide Flame proved his Triumph Hurdle win was no fluke and he is 33/1 from 50/1 for the Champion Hurdle with the pair finishing well clear of the rest.Cloudy Lane and Edgardo Sol were bad results for the bookies with both winners well-backed before the off, but Friday looks nicely poised in the battle between the punters and the layers with StanJames.com paying each-way one-quarter odds on all races at Aintree."
"Finian's Rainbow is the star attraction on Day Two and we make him the 5/4 from 6/5 for the Melling Chase. Last year's runner-up Albertas Run is 11/4 from 3/1 with Jonjo O'Neill's 11-year-old hoping to go one better than last year. The Topham Chase over the National fences is always a popular betting heat and we're paying out each-way on five places in the race. Tom George's Triangular heads the market at 7/1 with Always Waining 11/1 as he bids for a third consecutive win in the race. Peter Bowen withdrew his 11-year-old from the National today due to the slow ground but he is sure to be popular on the day."
"Philip Hobbs' classy novice hurdler Fingal Bay also returns to the track after missing Cheltenham through injury. He's a warm favourite for the Sefton Novices' Hurdle with John Ferguson's Cotton Mill hoping for redemption after ducking out at the second last in last month's Neptune Hurdle."
Melling Chase (EW 1/4 1,2,3): 5/4 Finian's Rainbow 11/4 Albertas Run 7 Poquelin 12 Wishfull Thinking, Kauto Stone 20 Forpadydeplasterer 25 Kalahari King 100 Pure Faith
Topham Chase (EW 1/4 1,2,3,4,5): 7 Triangular 9 Little Josh, Frankie Figg 11 Always Waining 12 Apt Approach 14 Gonebeyondrecall 16 Aimigayle, Chance du Roy, Fabalu 20 Tartak, Montoyas Son, Paradis de Thaix 22 Fistral Beach 25 bar
Sefton Novices' Hurdle (EW 1/4 1,2,3): 13/8 Fingal Bay 5 Cotton Mill 10 Lovcen 12 Knock A Hand, Gullinbursti 14 Ballyrock, Tap Night, Golden Call, Harry Topper 16 Ipsos Du Berlais 20 Hawkes Point 25 Makethe Mostofnow 33 bar