Oscar out to atone for Cheltenham flop

Owner Dai Walters is hoping Oscar Whisky will be seen in his true light when he returns to the scene of his greatest success at Aintree on Saturday.

The talented gelding’s sole Grade One triumph to date came in the John Smith’s Aintree Hurdle on Grand National day 12 months ago, and he bids to repeat the trick on the back of a disappointing run in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle.

Walters was keen to take on Big Buck’s over three miles at Cheltenham, but Oscar Whisky’s stamina ran out and he could finish only fifth behind Andy Stewart’s superstar.

Walters, the chairman of Ffos Las racecourse, and trainer Nicky Henderson, are now taking Oscar Whisky back to Merseyside where 12 months ago he held on by a neck to land the spoils from Thousand Stars.

“I’ve not seen him myself since Cheltenham, but I’ve spoken to Nicky a few times and he says he’s in good form,” said Walters.

“He came out of the race very well and he didn’t have a hard race at Cheltenham.

“He couldn’t beat Big Buck’s over three miles and Barry (Geraghty) didn’t push him that hard. We wanted to take him on so at least we know now.

“Maybe we could have gone for the Champion Hurdle instead, but there you are. He’s coming back to two and a half miles which is his trip.

“We’re taking on Thousand Stars again and there’s (Champion Hurdle winner) Rock On Ruby as well. I’m looking forward to it and it’s fingers crossed.”

mfl 2 RACING Aintree Hurdle

Rock On Ruby bids to become the first Champion Hurdle winner to follow up in this race since the mighty Istabraq in 1999.

The seven-year-old may come under the Paul Nicholls banner, but he is one of 30 of the trainer’s string housed in a satellite stable at Seaborough in Dorchester under the supervision of Harry Fry.

He has been delighted with the way Rock On Ruby took his Cheltenham exertions in his stride.

“He came out of the race very well and everybody has been very happy with him,” said Fry.

“In fact, he took us by surprise in that he put on a bit of weight which was great and we’ve been able to graft him the last fortnight.”

“He’s fresh and really well. Noel (Fehily) was down to school him on Tuesday and that went well. We are looking forward to running him.

“It’s a good race but the question is where is the pace going to come from with Overturn not running.

“At the start of the season we hoped we would end up going for this race. This was the initial target and we’ll take what we’ve done on the way.

“We have no worries about the trip whatsoever. Two miles round there would be too sharp. He’d want further so we know he’ll stay. A flat track over two-mile-four is right up his street.

“Tactics will be the key. Obviously Paul has got Zarkandar as well, so it could be a tactical affair.”

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