Russell can put Pady back on top
Having finished second on each of his four starts since landing the Irish Independent Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham a year ago, Forpadydeplasterer might be due a return to the winner's enclosure at Aintree this afternoon.
Set to be reunited with Davy Russell for a first time since the pair filled the runner-up spot behind Trafford Lad in the 2008 Drinmore Chase, Tom Cooper's charge faces 10 opponents in a vintage renewal of the Grade One John Smith's Melling Chase.
Albertas Run, Poquelin and Deep Purple, first, second and fourth in the Ryanair Chase last month, all turn out, with Kalahari King, a runaway winner at the meeting 12 months ago, the likely favourite.
Third behind Big Zeb and Forpadydeplasterer in the Champion Chase at Cheltenham, Ferdy Murphy's gelding ran Forpadydeplasterer to a short head in last year's Arkle before that scintillating victory here.
Proven over today's two-and-a-half-mile trip and having only his third start of the season, Kalahari King has plenty in his favour now, but Russell's mount should have his measure again. Most of Forpadydeplasterer's frustrating run of seven seconds from eight starts have come on unsuitably testing ground.
The eight-year-old will get a bit of decent going today and, with Big Zeb heading for Punchestown instead, he ought to secure a deserved success at Kalahari King's expense. There is little to choose between the remainder. Schindlers Hunt, beaten a head in the corresponding race last year, has place claims for Dessie Hughes and Paddy Flood, but will need a career best to feature.
Hughes saddles four runners in all on the card, with Lenabane contesting the day's other highlight on the Mildmay course, the Matalan.co.uk Novices' Chase. An early faller at Cheltenham, Lenabane would be better suited by slower ground.
Burton Port and Knockara Beau, second and fourth respectively in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham, set the standard, but slight preference is for Ogee.
A Grade One winner over flights at the track a year ago, Jimmy McCarthy's mount looked set to land a touch in the William Hill Chase before a mistake two out halted his progress. He can make amends now.
No less than 11 Irish-trained representatives are among the 29 runners in the John Smith's Topham Trophy over the big fences. Among them is Silver Birch, the 2007 Grand National winner having missed the cut for tomorrow's showpiece.
Tom Cooper has another live contender in this in the shape of Prudent Honour, which finished a gallant third in the four-miler at Cheltenham and has a solid chance under Barry Geraghty.
However, experience around this track is always a bonus, so Charlie Swan's pair, Oodachee and Offshore Account, appeal more. The former comes here on the back of two quiet runs but was a good second in this 12 months ago and a big showing is expected again. Offshore Account might just shade it though.
In front as heads turned for home in last year's Grand National, David Casey's partner failed to see out the extended trip on that occasion. He caught the eye when taking fourth behind Ogee in the William Hill, and has a very fair 10st 7lb here.
Jimmy Mangan's Whinstone Boy was another to miss the cut in the National. The in-form Thyestes Chase hero bids for compensation in the three-mile handicap hurdle, but has been set a typically stiff test by the English handicapper. Bob 'N' You, a winner over course and distance in October, may be the one to take advantage.
The raiders have a number of other opportunities throughout the card. John 'Shark' Hanlon's Western Leader could be hard to beat in the Grade One Sefton Novices' Hurdle on the back of a convincing win at Thurles, while Araucaria might land John Kiely a second successive triumph in the mares' bumper.
Willie Mullins' Dare To Doubt, a dual winner in the summer, is another interesting runner in that.
2.00 - Escort'men
2.35 - Ogee
3.10 - Forpadydeplasterer (Nap)
3.45 - Offshore Account
4.20 - Western Leader
4.55 - Bob 'N' You
5.30 - Araucaria