Aintree Hurdle attracts stars
Hurricane Fly and Annie Power are among the potential opponents for The New One in the Doom Bar Aintree Hurdle on Thursday.
The New One was narrowly beaten by Zarkandar as a novice in the two-and-a-half-mile contest 12 months ago and is set for a second crack at the Grade One prize following his luckless third in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Willie Mullins' dual Champion Hurdle hero and 19-time Grade One winner Hurricane Fly was a disappointing fourth at Prestbury Park, but would be a fascinating contender on Merseyside if stepped up to two and a half miles.
Hurricane Fly's stable companion Annie Power lost her unbeaten record in Cheltenham's World Hurdle, going down fighting to More Of That on her first attempt at three miles.
She could potentially come back in distance in the feature event on the opening day of the Crabbie's Grand National meeting.
Mullins has a third possible runner in Diakali.
Another former Champion Hurdle winner is Harry Fry's Rock On Ruby, who reverts to the smaller obstacles after a disappointing effort in the Arkle Trophy.
Fry told his website: "It was a run which suggested that he does not quite have the scope for chasing at the highest level.
"So after much debate with his team of owners we feel it is unlikely that he will be running over fences again.
"Rock On Ruby has achieved so much over hurdles that it is only right we should look after him. So he will go back to what he does best.
"The task he faces at Aintree is a stiff one but he came out of Cheltenham in good shape and continues to work well at home."
Grandouet, Melodic Rendezvous and Coral Cup winner Whisper also feature among 12 confirmations.