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Last Updated: April 9, 2011 2:35pm
Spirit Son: Easy winner
Spirit Son (3-1) was an easy winner of the John Smith's Mersey Novices' Hurdle, the opening race on Grand National day at Aintree.
The Nicky Henderson-trained five-year-old was second in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival but went one better here over half a mile further.
Settled just off the pace as Sam Winner took them along, Barry Geraghty eased his mount into the contest before sprinting clear up the run-in to win by 13 lengths.
Cue Card (5-2 favourite) did well to finish second despite pulling hard in the early stages with Rock On Ruby (9-2) third.
Geraghty said: "He's a bit of a baby, he's only five. I said to Nicky before Cheltenham that it might just come six months too soon for him but he learned an awful lot from it.
"Just over this longer trip he was able to get into a nice rhythm and he jumped and travelled lovely. He picked up well and he destroyed them at the finish.
"I was going like a winner everywhere."
Henderson, bagging his first winner of the three-day meeting, said: "It's taken two days to get there, but we've finally managed it.
"He was good today, Barry said the only thing was probably Cheltenham might have come six months too soon for him.
"I don't know quite what his trip will be but you won't see him again this season.
"We'll see where he is over hurdles just to start with (next season) and it's only just starting to happen for him."
Cue Card's trainer Colin Tizzard said: "We were beaten by a very nice horse. Joe (Tizzard, jockey son) had to wake him up a little on the bend, but he stayed on really well.
"That will probably be it for the season. He will go chasing next season and he will be a nice horse over fences.
"We thought he would travel and then pick up, but Spirit Son did that a bit better and he must be a very good horse."
Daryl Jacob, rider of the third Rock On Ruby, said: "He ran a bit flat. Maybe he had a hard race at Cheltenham."