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Rock on Ruby is now ready to rock towards victory at Aintree

By Chris Wilson

Rock On Ruby can fend off a formidable Irish assault on the Doom Bar Aintree Hurdle.

Even in spite of Ulster-owned Hurricane Fly's defection, Down Royal Festival hero Jezki and Arctic Fire are very worthy representatives.

But Rock On Ruby has been revitalised this term and can make it third time lucky in this race, with fitness marginally on his side.

Harry Fry's 10-year-old missed Cheltenham due to a late problem, but that might have been a blessing as numerous Festival horses over the years have failed to convince at Aintree.

Assuming he is over what ailed him, and Fry is convinced he is, Rock On Ruby looks the value call.

Holywell has an awful lot going for him in the Betfred Bowl, the keynote race on day one of the Crabbie's Grand National Festival.

Jonjo O'Neill has rather more grandiose ambitions this week as he readies Shutthefrontdoor for the main event, but the Jackdaws Castle handler can be trusted to have this one on top of his form.

The eight-year-old chaser can be a notoriously slow starter to a season, as was again evidenced this winter.

Holywell simply comes alive in the spring, with a 10-length defeat of the excellent Don Cossack in the Mildmay over course and distance testament to that theory 12 months ago.

That victory also came on the back of a similarly accomplished triumph at the Cheltenham Festival.

He once again returns to Merseyside with reputation intact following a fine effort in the Gold Cup which was much better than many had originally thought.

With the testing ground undeniably against Holywell, he still managed to take fourth spot, which surely exceeded O'Neill's expectations.

It should be an entirely different scenario at Aintree, though, as the drying conditions can be considered a big boon.

More so, even, than last year's winner Silviniaco Conti, whose trainer Paul Nicholls believes a sounder surface and flatter track will help his inmate in the Bowl.

There is not much in it between the two juggernauts, but Holywell is a year younger and has had a less bruising campaign than the Nicholls horse.

TODAY'S AINTREE TIPS: 1.40 Josses Hill, 2.15 Hargam, 2.50 Holywell (nap), 3.25 Rock On Ruby, 4.05 On The Fringe, 4.40 Next Sensation, 5.15 Taglietelle

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