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.
2 March 2015McCoy shines on Sivola
Weekend plan for Lincoln hope Boy
Arzal seeking change of luck
Bentelimar booked for Supreme rule
Watering possible at Cheltenham
Wincanton Thursday abandoned
Aintree beckons for Milan
Dundalk unlikely for Byron
Cops on patrol for Pertemps
Sizing team to make late call
Stars on show at Cheltenham
Codd angling for Festival glory
Duke set Carlisle agenda
Prospects bleak at Wincanton
Moon camp wary of Irish threat
Hobbs unveils Cheltenham hopes
Magic McCoy on target with Fredo
Azorian back in winning groove
Berlais lands Auteuil prize
Fred Winter favoured for Berbas
High hopes for Meade Festival team
Cooper seeks Cheltenham riches
Lemaire in hot water in Japan
Reckless camp consider Arkle bid
1 March 2015Cecil runner second at Huntingdon
High hopes for Meade Festival team
Super set for National Duty
Longsdon retains Joe faith
Nolan hoping Noble makes cut
Camping in line for Cup bid
Bin Suroor tribute for Cavalryman
Vautour excites Mullins in workout
Elliott posse work at Leopardstown
Geraghty confirmed for Master
Wayward back on right track
Investment gains Greatwood gold
Bal win delights connections
Glinger burns off Kelso rivals
Pipe proves he's a Soll man
Geraghty shines on Leave It
28 February 2015Festival plans fluid for Cyclone
Walter back for another victory
Irish pair do battle in France
Geraghty: Sprinter will be fitter
Wylie lines up Cheltenham team
Twiston-Davies Blak in business
Divine Bishop on Festival trail
Irish duo set Doncaster poser
Night riding high for Grimthorpe
Glingerburn facing another battle
Pipe targets Aintree with veterans
Carlito primed for Kelso return
McCoy not planning Festival goodbye
Bridge camp praying for rain
Cook suspended from riding
27 February 2015Golantilla in Ballsbridge bid
Safety strikes in Zabeel Mile
Fehily confirms Zarkandar mount
Lieutenant bosses Purcell rivals
Dettori delights on Dubday
Many Clouds goes back to school
Maguire loses appeal
New One at ease for Faugheen clash
Foxrock still in Gold Cup picture
Apache ready to take flight in JLT