Aintree Grand National Festival News: Epatante eases to Betway Aintree Hurdle victory

Nicky Henderson's classy mare Epatante excelled in the Betway Aintree Hurdle and cruised to a 14 length win. Her main rival Zanahiyr fell when being challenged.

Epatante showed where the class lay in the Betway Aintree Hurdle as she cruised to a 14 length win in the Aintree Grade 1.

Guard Your Dreams took up the running but Epatante's jockey Aidan Coleman was content to bide his time on the Nicky Henderson Champion Hurdle winner with Gordon Elliott's Zanahiyr trying to rival but suffering a crashing fall.

2/1 chance Epatante won the race for leading owner JP McManus who was delighted with the Aintree victory. Meanwhile, Paul Nicholls continued his strong form with his Monmiral (8/1) and McFabulous (28/1) finishing second and third in the two miles four furlong test.

10/1 shot Glory and Fortune for Tom Lacey was the only other finisher as Team Twiston-Davies' Guard Your Dreams unseated his rider and Olly Murphy's Brewin'upastorm pulled up.

It was an unfortunate fall for Elliott's Zanahiyr after looking like challanging Epatante but, in truth, in this mood, few would live with Henderson's mighty mare.

Henderson said: "She's right back to her best. That's the first time she has ever been two and a half miles and the worry was would she get it? She's won all sorts of Group Ones over two miles and we asked her to go that bit further and she got it standing on her head!

"She's quickened very well and her jumping was electric. That's her secret weapon, well, it's not a secret weapon. It's an open weapon.

"She's just been back to herself, we didn't have to change an awful lot. This mare, she needs her confidence, and she's got it back as you can see."

On plans, the Seven Barrows handler added: "Something like Constitution Hill might come into the equation. We'll see where they all go, we'll worry about that later!"

McManus was delighted, saying: "It's a great performance by Nicky to have her in the shape she was in after the Champion Hurdle, I'm very pleased.

"She hasn't had too many issues, she met one too good in the Champion Hurdle, it was great that he got her back and he was very happy with her preparation.

"She did it very well."

Meanwhile, the rain kept on falling at Aintree which may or may not have going effects for the Grand National on Saturday.

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