Flint team fancy chances
John Flint is hoping the rain arrives at Aintree as Kayf Moss bids for Grade One glory in the Pertemps Network Mersey Novices' Hurdle.
Following handicap victories at Ffos Las and Leicester, the six-year-old completed a hat-trick with a shock victory in the Grade Two National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell.
The trainer's jockey-son Rhys Flint picked up a whip suspension that ruled him out of the Cheltenham Festival and, for that reason, connections decided to skip the showpiece meeting with Kayf Moss.
But with Flint jnr now sidelined by injury, Tom O'Brien takes over in the saddle. The Bridgend handler said: "We are praying for some rain and if they do get some and the ground is on the soft side, I think he'll run very well.
"He beat a 150-rated horse and a 165-rated horse at Fontwell and the horse that was second (Meister Eckhart) ran very well to finish third under a big weight at Aintree on Thursday, so the form stands up.
"We were always going to miss Cheltenham with our horse as the owners wanted Rhys to ride and he was suspended for the Festival.
"Unfortunately Rhys broke a vertebra in his back a fortnight ago and will miss the ride, but Tom O'Brien has ridden the horse before, winning at Ffos Las, so I'm sure we'll be fine on that score.
"I'm not sure how he'll handle better ground as he's never really run on it.
"As long as he can go quick enough I would imagine we'll adopt the same tactics as we did at Fontwell and bounce out in front.
"We want to make sure it is a good test of stamina."
Another horse lining up following three consecutive victories is the Charlie Longsdon-trained Kilcooley.
The five-year-old has won a bumper and two hurdle races at Market Rasen and his trainer is keen to test the water at a higher level.
Longsdon said: "It is a big step up, but he has done everything very easily so far.
"It was a question of either putting him away for the season now or letting him have a stab at a big prize and we thought it was worth having a go to see how good he is.
"He is a racecourse horse rather than a home horse - his work at home is only middle of the road - but he has done everything right on the track so far.
"If he's going to be running in some of the better handicaps next season, he needs to get some more experience and he'll certainly get that on Saturday."
Wilde Blue Yonder may well have won at both Newbury and Ascot earlier this season, had he not tipped up at the final flight on both occasions, but showed his quality with a fine fifth in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Trainer Alan King is looking forward to testing his charge at two and a half miles.
The Barbury Castle handler told his website, www.alankingracing.co.uk: "Wilde Blue Yonder ran a solid race in the Supreme at Cheltenham and two and a half around here could suit him.
"He schooled well on Monday and is in good form, so, hopefully, he'll run well."
Paul Nicholls' County Hurdle winner Lac Fontana, the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Splash Of Ginge and Nicky Henderson's duo of Oscar Hoof and Volnay De Thaix also feature in a 12-runner field.