Nicky Henderson made a good start to the Grand National meeting when Buveur D’Air led home a stable one-two in Thursday's Betway Hurdle and he can continue it on Friday with his highly talented but slightly unpredictable RSA winner Might Bite in the Betway Mildmay Novice Chase.
Might Bite, whose antics at Cheltenham were worthy of one of the wackier Grand Nationals after he appeared to aim for the exit to the paddock before rallying to get back up on the line to beat Whisper, is the star attraction. But if you back him it would be unwise to count your winnings until he is past the line.
At least, at Aintree, the exit back to the paddock is past the winning post but Nicky Henderson concedes that apart from standing half way up the run-in waving his arms there is nothing he can do to correct any wayward notions the eight-year-old has towards the end of the race.
Henderson reflected that it was a ‘bit unfair’ having to beat My Tent Or Yours yet again with Buveur D’Air and he may feel the same way if Might Bite beat Whisper again but he is entitled to think his Champion Hurdler may be better than originally given credit for after he extended his margin of victory to five lengths over two and a half miles in the Aintree Hurdle.
Pointing out the difficulty of doubling up at both Festivals, which equally applies to Might Bite, Henderson said: “However easy you win at Cheltenham you always have tough races and you have to come back and do it here.
We gave them a quiet 10 days and Buveur D’air came here looking big. He’s doing everything right now.”
Later on the card Tom George, who runs Double Shuffle and Saint Are in Saturday's National, can cap what has already been a fine season for his yard by winning the JLT Melling Chase for the second season in succession with God’s Own.
The nine-year-old was beaten by seven and a half lengths into fifth in the Champion Chase by Special Tiara but was challenging for a major share of the spoils when he banked the second last.
George also has a good chance in the Doom Bar Sefton Novice Hurdle with The World’s End. Professional jockeys will get their first sight of the National fences on Friday. As De Mee is not always the most predictable of horses but he is a previous course and distance winner here and can prove his liking for the place.