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.
31 October 2014Osborne ready to 'roll the dice'
Dank bids to sign off on a high
Turf glory in sight for Telescope
Red Ed upbeat about Cadeaux
Aktabantay out of Breeders' Cup
Tearless secures Good Friday ticket
Overnight stay for Johnson
Crawford banks on Izzini progress
Toast could make Spencer think
Road charts route to Royal riches
Grece excels at Saint-Cloud
Hawk given Greatwood option
Hannon: Early speed key for Osaila
30 October 2014Tearless takes Lingfield honours
Johnson taken to hospital
Royal summons for Apache
Bowe takes aim at WKD bullseye
Hootenanny 'smoking' for BC mission
Avenue roads lead to Newmarket
Shu to be kept busy
Scu sweet on Sensation Ascot raid
Murtagh succumbs to Cup charms
Dandino to stay in Australia
Glance denied Mackinnon defence
Bailey ace rules Supreme at Taunton
O'Brien hit by Magician blow
Diablo in big-race picture
Buckley raises Toast to Osborne
Pastille seeking four-timer
Conti all set for Charlie Hall
Barnes out to storm Saint-Cloud
Williams issues Buywise warning
Lynam reveals Slade stalls fears
29 October 2014Lame Magician out of Breeders' Cup
Diablo in big-race picture
Mullins enters strong Hennessy team
Damaged hock behind Estid reverse
Eckhart team rocked by injury blow
Hunt Ball makes Power play
Morgiana a T bone of contention
Kirby ponders Buttons French raid
Glance camp turn to Williams
Wohler trusts 'professional' Moore
Red alert to Cup challenge
Head targets more Mile glory
Mile hope Toronado in 'great form'
Telescope camp banking on Moore
Twiston-Davies link excites Moore
Flying third to Bob on hurdling bow
Harden to test top staying waters
Godolphin take share in Belardo
Mullins has big guns at Down Royal
Annacotty set for Kempton return
Powell and Bradley cleared
28 October 2014Fingal camp on weather watch
More injury woe for Popham
Dickin unveils Thomas gameplan
Power stalls in Flemington spin
Toast drawn nine in BC Classic
My Ambivalent passed fit by vets
Harry out to bring House down
Three and easy for ton-up Hanagan
Wood carves out Galway verdict
More Of That in Wetherby frame
Big guns confirmed for Charlie Hall
Byron pencilled in for Far East
Newbury reverts to original title
Magician to stay in the US
Henderson considers hurdles for Bob