DUAL Stayers’ Hurdle winner Flooring Porter is among 10 entries for the Grade 1 JRL Group Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree on Saturday.
Gavin Cromwell’s charge produced another dominant front-running performance to successfully defend his crown at last month’s Cheltenham Festival under an inspired ride from Danny Mullins.
Last season the seven-year-old rounded off his season at Punchestown, but Cromwell recently raised the possibility of him instead lining up on Merseyside before a potential trip to France later in the year.
His likely rivals on Grand National day include Stayers’ Hurdle runner-up Thyme Hill, who won last year’s Liverpool Hurdle for Philip Hobbs.
Nicky Henderson looks set to saddle Champ, who won the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle over this course and distance last season in 2019 and was only four lengths behind Flooring Porter when fourth just over three weeks ago.
Thomas Darby and Molly Ollys Wishes are also in the mix for the extended three-mile contest.
Alan King’s Edwardstone will bid to supplement his Arkle success in the Grade 1 Poundland Maghull Novices’ Chase.
The eight-year-old has won his last five races over fences and will be widely expected to crown his tremendous season with another top-level success.
His biggest threat on ratings is Dan Skelton’s Third Time Lucki, who has already been beaten by Edwardstone twice this term, but will at least be fresh having sidestepped Cheltenham.
Gentleman De Mee is an interesting contender from Ireland for Willie Mullins.
The first of three Grade 1s on the card is the Betway Mersey Novices’ Hurdle, in which Stage Star could bid to bounce back from a disappointing run on soft ground at the Cheltenham Festival.
Nicky Henderson has given Supreme runner-up Jonbon the option of stepping-up to two and a half miles for the first time, having also entered him for the two-mile Top Novices’ Hurdle on Thursday. Walking On Air is another possible for Henderson.
Ballymore runner-up Three Stripe Life, King’s North Lodge, Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Hurdle winner Banbridge and Skelton’s pair of Elle Est Bell and Lac De Constance also feature