On His Own advertised his prospects for the John Smith's Grand National with an impressive return to action at Navan and he now heads the market for the Aintree showpiece with most firms.
Having his first run since falling in last year's big race, the Willie Mullins-trained nine-year-old, racing in the colours of Graham Wylie, returned in style in the Ladbrokes Boyne Hurdle and is as short as 8-1 for his return to Merseyside.
Si C'Etait Vrai made a bold attempt to make all, but he could not match the challenge of On His Own (10-1) as Paul Townend's mount got home by two and a quarter lengths, with his odds-on stablemate Thousand Stars trailing home last of six.
Mullins said: "I've been trying to find a suitable hurdle race for him. He was a novice before today, but he's won a nice prize over hurdles now. The plan was to give him another run over fences before the National, but after winning today we might review that and he could have another run over hurdles."
The trainer blamed the ground for Thousand Stars' poor showing. He added: "Ruby (Walsh) said he just couldn't handle the ground. He came back in with muck halfway up his knees and just seemed to sink into it. He's unlikely to run at Cheltenham as the Aintree Hurdle is the one race we really have in mind."
Chicago Grey also did his Aintree claims no harm when springing a 25-1 surprise in the Red Mills Chase. The Gordon Elliott-trained outsider of four led between the last two fences under Davy Condon before going on to defeat Foildubh by two and a half lengths.
Rubi Light made the running as he tried to lift this Grade Two prize for the third successive year, but he never looked like winning after being headed before the third-last.
Elliott said: "I thought he'd run well. He's had a wind op, and obviously the Grand National is the plan now. The ground was soft and it played into his hands. He'll go straight for the National now and I'd say the wind op made a big difference to him."
Boylesports cut Chicago Grey to 25-1 from 33s for Aintree, while Ladbrokes went 20s.
23 November 2014Followme poised for Drinmore date
Balbriggan lands Troytown gamble
Vautour impresses on chasing debut
Balbriggan all the way
Un De Sceaux set for Thurles
Vautour off to impressive start
Melodic team face tough choice
Henderson aims at Listed prize
Croco in frame for Topham
Belle set for hurdling campaign
Deputy in Kempton firing line
McBratney banks on Boy progress
Silvi scraps to Betfair glory
Bally sparkles on Mullins' big day
Kelly's a Fixed Brush hero
Faugheen turns on the style
Fenton banned for three years
Amlin double for fab Ferof
New One excels in Haydock romp
Flyer grounds Ascot rivals
Vasco a cut above opposition
22 November 2014Conti strikes Betfair Chase gold
Taken seeking Listed gold
Mogol facing Monksfield test
Vautour makes chasing bow
Gordon enjoys Dundalk spin
McCoy: Landmark swayed judgment
Jacob warms up with brace
Hill peaking for Troytown return
Billy back on winning track
Walsh back for Ferof ride
New ready for Haydock Rush
Cheltenham is Big aim
Mullins eager for Faugheen run
Cue primed for Betfair defence
21 November 2014Geraghty snapped up for Seuil
Volnay aiming for quick repeat
Argocat camp play it cool
Leading Light retired
Frankel filly breaks Irish record
Linton loses Listed place
Doubles for Pipe and Scudamore
Nasty spill for Insole
McCoy targets midweek return
Farm comes Home to roost at Thurles
Flemenstar future dictated by scan
Cue lined up for Haydock return
20 November 2014McNamara joy at turning pro
Volnay seeking Mersey paradise
Sloane Avenue books Dubai date
Spencer reveals Qatar riding snub
Doyle ready for Godolphin challenge
Good news at Huntingdon
BHA hear Linton case
Avenue shows winning way
Grugy diagnosed with hip issue
Meade plots Monksland comeback
Ptit secures swift double
Shanes shines in hurdles win
Mullins' stars set for weekend runs
Haydock aim for Aurore
Medermit in Betfair contention