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.
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