Trainer Alex Hales 'excited' to get Millers Bank back on track at Aintree

Millers Bank returns to the scene of his finest hour to date for the Jewson St Helens Old Roan Chase at Aintree on Sunday.

The eight-year-old failed to complete in two of his first three starts over fences, but showed what he can do when powering clear in the Grade One Manifesto Novices' Chase at Aintree in April.

He disappointed on the final start of his novice campaign at the Punchestown Festival, but trainer Alex Hales is looking forward to the return of his stable star on Merseyside.

Hales said: "It's exciting to get him back on track. He was a star for us last year and we hope we can have some more fun with him this year.

"We've had a very good prep with him, which I always think stands them in good stead - we haven't missed a beat and I'm really pleased with him.

"He will improve, but he won first time out last year and has had the same amount of work.

"We just hope he has improved again as everything is a step up in grade this year. He's a Grade One winner in novice company and he's got to prove he's a Graded horse in open company now."

Considering plans beyond this weekend, the trainer added: "The obvious target is the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon, but we'll take it day by day.

"It is a handicap on Sunday and he's got to give a lot of weight away to some useful enough horses, so it's not a walk in the park, but it's a very good starting point and we know he likes Aintree."

Another horse who enjoyed an excellent novice season for a relatively small yard last term is the Michael Scudamore-trained Do Your Job.

Runner-up to Edwardstone and Third Time Lucki during the winter, the Fame And Glory gelding enjoyed his day in the sun when winning the Future Champion Novices' Chase at Ayr in the spring.

Scudamore said: "I'm very happy with him, he's done plenty of work and schooled well and everything.

"Obviously it's a big ask and a very competitive race on Sunday, but I couldn't be happier with how he is and it will be good to get him started.

"He means the world to us and being a small yard, we don't have many like him. It's very exciting to get him back out, but there's plenty of nerves in there as well.

"He did well in his Graded novice hurdles and his Graded novice chases, but now he's got to step up into the big world and off 146, he has to improve a bit to make that next step.

"Sunday will tell us what sort of journey we're going to go on."

The great Kauto Star (2006) is one of three previous winners of the Old Roan Chase for champion trainer Paul Nicholls along with Sound Investment (2015) and Frodon (2018).

On Sunday the Ditcheat handler is represented by Hitman, who chased home Fakir d'Oudairies in the Grade One Marsh Chase at Aintree in April and makes his first appearance since undergoing wind surgery.

"I continue to have high hopes for Hitman, who had wind surgery over the summer because he has struggled with his breathing a bit on and off. That should help bring about some improvement," Nicholls told Betfair.

"He is still young, only six, and has wanted time and stepping up in trip. Hitman just needed his first run in the Haldon Gold Cup last year after travelling like the winner before being chinned on the line. He came forward massively from that to the Tingle Creek, where he finished second.

"It's early days, I've done as much as I can with him at home and he hasn't been away for a racecourse gallop, so Aintree is the starting point for him. I have a feeling we could be in for a repeat of what happened at Exeter and whatever he achieves on Sunday, he is going to improve significantly."

Jamie Snowden saddles both Soldier Of Destiny and the long-absent Ga Law.

Beakstown (Dan Skelton), Captain Tom Cat (Dr Richard Newland) and Riders Onthe Storm (Richard Hobson) complete the field.

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