Own offers Grand National clue
On His Own is challenging for Grand National favouritism after landing the Ladbrokes Boyne Hurdle at Navan.
Having his first race since falling in last year's Aintree showpiece, the Willie Mullins-trained nine-year-old returned in style in the Ladbrokes Boyne Hurdle.
While his odds-on stablemate Thousand Stars trailed home last of six, the Graham Wylie-owned nine-year-old put up an impressive display.
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.
"I've been trying to find a suitable hurdle race for him. He was a novice (over hurdles) before today, but he's won a nice prize over hurdles now," said Mullins.
"Coming here today, 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."
On His Own has joined his stablemate Prince de Beauchene, also in the same ownership, as favourite for the National, having been cut to 9/1 by Sky Bet.
Mullins blamed the ground for Thousand Stars' poor showing.
"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 said.
"He's unlikely to run at Cheltenham as the Aintree Hurdle is the one race we really have in mind for him."
Terminal (15/8) gave Mullins the middle part of a treble with a clear-cut win in the Irish Form Book Ten Up Novice Chase under Ruby Walsh.
The 4/6 favourite Tofino Bay tried to make all in what was a tactical affair but Terminal, owned by Favourites Racing, got on top at the last to score by five and a half lengths.
Mullins and owners the Gigginstown House Stud joined forces to take the concluding bumper with Made In Germany (9/10 favourite) in the hands of the trainer's son, champion amateur Patrick.
Chicago Grey 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.
"I thought he'd run well. He's had a wind-op and obviously the Grand National is the plan now," said Elliott.
"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."
Sky Bet cut Chicago Grey to 16/1 for Aintree on the back of his win.
Condon completed a double when replacing the injured Paul Carberry on Mullaghanoe River (7/4 favourite) for trainer Noel Meade in the Irish Stallion Owners EBF Maiden Hurdle.
Buckers Bridge (7/2) edged out Twinlight in a thrilling finish to the Flyingbolt Novice Chase.
Twinlight looked like striking for Mullins when holding a narrow lead after jumping the last.
However, Buckers Bridge rallied under a hard drive from Andrew Lynch to get up in the final strides to win by head.
"He just wasn't right at Fairyhouse (fifth in the Drinmore Chase) the last day so we backed off him and gave him a bit of a break. He seems to be back as good as ever," said trainer Henry de Bromhead.
"He jumped super and battled well. I hope that trip was a bit sharp for him and we'll step him up a bit in distance.
"He's entered in the Jewson at Cheltenham. I also put him in the novice handicap chase but he probably won't be qualified for that now."
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