Balder claims success
Alan King secured his third winner of the week at Aintree as Balder Succes took the Doom Bar Maghull Novices' Chase.
Winner of the Kingmaker Novices' Chase at Warwick and the Pendil Novices' Chase at Kempton, Balder Succes bypassed last month's showpiece meeting at Cheltenham to ensure he was primed for his trip to Liverpool.
With Next Sensation predictably setting a strong gallop from the outset, Balder Succes was waited with in the hands of Wayne Hutchinson before looming up ominously in the straight.
The 7/2 chance moved stylishly to the lead on the run to the final fence and a spring-heeled leap sealed victory.
Nicky Richards' outsider Simply Ned ran a super race to finish second, beaten four lengths, with 11/4 favourite Trifolium back in third, just as he was in the Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham.
Hutchinson said: "I got in tight to the ditch, but he was very good.
"I set sail and it was do or die - he was very honest and he's come for me all the way to the the line.
"It just took me three fences to hit my rhythm, but when we steadied up going to the back his jumping got me going again."
King said: "He was good today. He needed one at the last and got it, his jumping was great all the way round.
"It's paid off not going to Cheltenham with him, he was fresh and well - I'm delighted.
"He could go Punchestown. He gets two and a half miles, but I think he's better over two.
"Early in the season we thought we had to make the running, but we knew there'd be pace on today so we didn't want to do that.
"Fences have made a man of him."
King added: "He's just gained confidence all season and fences have toughened him up a little bit. He's always been a good horse, but he was a bit soft over hurdles. He couldn't cope with big fields in those handicaps.
"You'd have to say he's getting better. If he does go anywhere else it will be Punchestown. The owner likes to go to Punchestown so if he does go anywhere it will be there, otherwise we'll put him away for next season.
"To begin with (next season) we'll stick to the two-mile route and see where we are. He just got home over two and a half at Kempton."
Richards said of Simply Ned: "He's had a good, consistent season.
"The handicapper won't be kind on him, I don't think, but I'd like to try him right-handed around places like Ascot and Sandown.
"We'll have to mix it with the big boys, maybe we'd start off in something like the Jenny Mould Chase (at Cheltenham in December)."
Charles Byrnes said of Irish raider Trifolium: "It was a good run, although he didn't jump as well as he can. He'll definitely go to Punchestown."