Simonsig (left) takes advantage of Super Duty's mistake at the second-lastPICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)
Simonsig strolls home inMersey Novices' Hurdle
Report: Aintree, Saturday
John Smith's Mersey Novices' Hurdle (Grade 2) 2m4f, 4yo+
IMPRESSIVE Cheltenham Festival winner Simonsig added a Grand National meeting triumph to his record when he landed the Mersey Novices' Hurdle at Aintree.
Successful in the Grade 1 Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle last month, the Nicky Henderson-trained Simonsig was set off the 4-9 favourite to follow up and those who tookthe short odds had little to worry about.
Racing handily under Barry Geraghty, the exciting six-year-old cruised upsides long-time leader Super Duty entering the turn for home and took advantage of his rival stumbling at the penultimate flight to register an easy 15-length success.
That could be his last run over hurdles and Paddy Power make him 3-1 (from 4) for the Racing Post Arkle next year. William Hill offered 4-1 for that and 8-1 for theRSA Chase.
"He's as good as he looks," beamed Geraghty. "He's done everything so easy. I didn't want to be setting sail too early. He really wants a fence, he's really classy."
Henderson, who was securing another vital win in the race to be crowned champion trainer, added: "He's pretty good isn't he? He's real class."
Despite his mistake, Super Duty held on for second at 7-1 with Baby Shine third at 12-1.
Donald McCain, who trains Super Duty, said: ""That was a great run. We tried to get the winner off the bridle and we missed the second-last, he did well to stand up, and that cost us any squeak of getting close to him.
"The winner was very impressive but we have finished as close to him as anyone this year and he is a smashing novice chaser for next season."