Tiger rolls back the years for Elliott
Last year's English Grand National hero Tiger Roll warmed up for another ambitious spring campaign with a clear-cut victory in the Ladbrokes Ireland Boyne Hurdle at Navan.
The Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase - which he won at Cheltenham in 2018 - will be the next port of call for the Gigginstown House Stud-owned gelding ahead of his attempt to become the first horse since Red Rum (in 1973-74) to land back-to-back victories in the Aintree spectacular.
Tiger Roll was sent off at 25/1 for the Grade Two hurdle over two miles and five furlongs - but the Gordon Elliott-trained nine-year-old did not travel like an outsider as he settled sweetly for Keith Donoghue.
After Coquin Mans had led the field to the third-last flight, Tiger Roll loomed large to jump the penultimate hurdle in front.
Donoghue's mount soon asserted and victory was never in doubt, as he crossed the line four lengths clear of Off You Go.
Elliott - whose charge is a three-time Chetenham Festival winner - said: "That's brilliant, I'm delighted with the way he ran. He's a great horse and never lets us down.
"The plan is the cross-country race at Cheltenham and obviously the English National, all being well."
He went on: "It was a nice surprise. I thought the two horses, Bless The Wings and him, would finish second last and last so it was a nice surprise. He's paid for himself for the year again.
"That's arguably one of his best performances over hurdles.
"I thought he would need the run badly, and we knew there was plenty of improvement in him, but he was obviously a bit fitter than I thought. Keith said he would come on from the run.
"He's going to be some horse to go for the cross-country race now and he should taking a fair bit of beating with a clear round."
Tiger Roll was cut to 11/10 favourite from 15/8 for the Glenfarclas Chase and is 12/1 from 20/1 for the Grand National with Paddy Power.
Chris's Dream confirmed Naas form with Champagne Classic to take Grade Two honours in the Ladbrokes Acca Boosty Ten Up Novice Chase. The pair had finished second and third respectively behind Ballyward, and they were in the same order again with Chris's Dream (5/2) landing the spoils in game fashion.
They fought out the closing stages, with Rachael Blackmore driving Henry de Bromhead's charge to victory by half a length.
Ucello Conti (4/7 favourite) made it a treble on the card for the Elliott stable when smoothly landing the odds in the Boardsmill Stud Hunters Chase.
The 11-year-old was trimmed to 4/1 from 5/1 for the Foxhunter Chase at Cheltenham after he disposed of Coastal Tiep with the minimum of fuss, by three and a half lengths in the hands of Barry O'Neill.
The evergreen Salsify, winner of the Foxhunters in 2012 and 2013 and now a 14-year-old, was third.
And having struck with Milan Native - under Jack Kennedy - in the opener, Elliott made it four on the day when the O'Neill-ridden Thatsy (10/11 favourite) claimed the bumper that brought the meeting to a close, beating stablemate Multifactorial by just over a length.