Oscar out to retain unbeaten record under red-hot Power
Tattersalls Ireland Champion Novice Hurdle | Grade 1 | 4yo+ | 2m4f | RTE2/ ATR
The unbeaten Finian's Oscar will be bidding to continue the splendid spring being enjoyed by Colin Tizzard, Ann and Alan Potts and Robbie Power when he goes for a third Grade 1 win victory in this two-and-a-half-mile event.
Winner of the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown in January, the five-year-old missed the Neptune at Cheltenham due to a minor setback before landing the Mersey Novices' Hurdle over today's trip at Aintree last month.
He faces nine rivals in today's event, including a strong team from the Willie Mullins yard and the Gordon Elliott-trained Death Duty, who will be attempting to regain the winning thread after losing his unbeaten record over hurdles when flopping in the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham last month.
Mullins, who has sent out eight winners of the race, including Vautour and Nichols Canyon in recent years, runs four including Let's Dance, a winner at last month's Cheltenham Festival.
Also on the Mullins team are Bacardys, winner of the Grade 1 Deloitte Hurdle at Leopardstown in February, Bleu Berry, who steps up in trip in his bid for a four-timer, and Kemboy who finished fifth in the Neptune at Cheltenham last month.
Representing Joseph O'Brien is Outspoken, winner of a maiden hurdle at Naas in February and runner-up on his other four starts over hurdles, most recently behind Bleu Berry at Fairyhouse earlier this month.
Trying to end a drought
Spirit Of Adjisa, in 2011, was the last British-trained winner of this event. Joining Finian's Oscar in today's renewal is the Warren Greatrex-trained The Nipper who steps up in class as she bids for a fourth win in a row.
What they say
Gordon Elliott, trainer of Death Duty and Runfordave
We were disappointed with Death Duty at Cheltenham but he looks and seems in better form now and we're hoping for a big run. Runfordave takes his chance but has it all to do.
Colin Tizzard, trainer of Finian's Oscar
He is a class horse. He didn't go to Cheltenham, so he went to Aintree a fresh horse. He picked up lovely there and then powered away. This is another Grade 1 but he came out of Aintree fine and good ground wouldn't be a problem.
Joseph O'Brien, trainer of Outspoken
We're very happy with him and I think that the step up in trip will definitely suit him. We're looking forward to seeing how he gets on. He's in great form.
Warren Greatrex, trainer of The Nipper
She wasn't quite right at the beginning of the season but since then she's impressed me every time she's won. She is up against it here but is very talented and, if she can nick some place money before going on her summer holiday, that would be great. I'm not worried about the ground.