Solwhit storms to a mightily impressive victory in the Liverpool HurdlePICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)
Solwhit again reigns supreme in Liverpool
Report: Aintree, Saturday
John Smith's Liverpool Hurdle (Grade 1) 5yo+
SOLWHIT reaffirmed his position as the best staying hurdler in the absence of Big Buck's with an easy success in the John Smith's Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree on Saturday.
The World Hurdle winner and 9-4 favourite was confidently ridden by Paul Carberry and soon put the race to bed when leading approaching the last.
Holywell, ridden by Tony McCoy and trained by Jonjo O'Neill, ran a blinder to finish second on his step up to Graded company, while World Hurdle third Smad Place again occupied the same position.
As many as five horses could have been given a chance after two out, including Grand Crus, who travelled strongly on the bridle for a long way.
However, his disappointing season continued as he fell into a hole, while Attaglance, World Hurdle second Celestial Halo and African Gold all held every chance before fading.
The win continued the Charles Byrnes-trained nine-year-old's amazingly consistent record over hurdles. In 22 races only twice has he finished out of the first three, and who's to say he won't give Big Buck's a race when Paul Nicholls' gelding returns from injury?
The sponsors of the World Hurdle certainly think he can, with Ladbrokes making Solwhit 4-1 co-favourite (from 8) alongside Big Buck's and At Fishers Cross.
Byrnes said: "He is a fantastic horse, a brilliant jumper, so slick. You wouldn't even know he leaves the ground. Paul [Carberry] was brilliant again.
"He pricked his ears at Cheltenham, he definitely had a nice bit left so we were confident he would beat the other ones - there were a couple of new ones thrown in but that was great.
"The only problem with Punchestown is that the gap is quite small but he has done it easily. It would be some clash with Quevega. We will see how he is and if he is okay we will probably go."
Of Smad Place, trainer Alan King said: "We're delighted with him. The winner was in a class of his own but our horse has run very well again.
"You won't see him now until fences in the autumn. He could be quite exciting."