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.
24 October 2014Buick happy as a Star is born
King ace back in the Old routine
Ballyalton out for the season
McCoy makes Chepstow return
Hutchinson sits out weekend action
Botti seeking Astrelle celebration
Balding sweet on Park chance
Walker hoping for Glorious victory
Times out to make Newbury headlines
Cheltenham honour leading figures
Moore keen on Adelaide chance
Stevens back for Breeders'
Johnson Houghton fined
Duke lords it at Carlisle
Southwell first for O'Brien
Fenton fined over steroids
Buywise on the money at Ludlow
Lockinge the big plan for Toormore
Stone ruled out of Old Roan
Wetherby likely for First run
Elm tops Trophy octet
23 October 2014Fenton guilty of drugs possession
Williams hoping for Max power
Harty biding his time with Lane
Clonmel aim for Baily
Jezki possible for Morgiana bow
Harrington expects Naylor to shine
Gosden a Fan of Newmarket scorer
Northern aces face off in Cumbria
Murphy plagued by shoulder injury
Dynaste charts direct Haydock route
O'Brien outlines Breeders' plans
Wetherby-bound Taquin to duck Power
High hopes for Adelaide run
Gilgamboa waits on ground
Dandino misses Cup date
22 October 2014December date for Balding memorial
Deputy outgunned at Fontwell
Whisky chasing Power spoils
Burke maps out Odeliz targets
Present sights set on Power prize
New category for all-weather champs
Moviesta has sales date
National aim for O'Neill star
Cheltenham on Ginge agenda
Lewis eyeing Dubai success
Henderson handed Ascot role
Panther given Breeders' go-ahead
Plain sailing for perfect Storm
Big Easy sets sail for Open fixture
Hall monitored for Giant Bolster
Stomachion in November frame
Hughes revels in 'sweet' success
BHA moves to address small fields
Connell turns to Heskin
Integral to race on next year
21 October 2014Storm breezes to Exeter victory
Moore concedes title to Hughes
Meade maps out gameplan for stars
Pele poised to tackle Hennessy
O'Neill sure of Taquin redemption
Heron seeking Great prize
Court to go on Trial
Saviour blow for Skelton
Dan makes chase debut
Moore waits on Grugy decision
O'Neill outlines That choices
Conn possible for Auction bid
Power team weigh up options
Bangor cancel schooling card
No rushing back for Long Run
Dynaste leads Old Roan contenders
Grands Crus retired
Exciting Berlais heads to Chepstow
Force handed Hong Kong mission
Park favourite for Trophy hunt
Al Kazeem team eye Hong Kong trip
Commemorative bound for Breeders'
Slade eyeing victorious swansong