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There is Irish representation in just three of the seven races at Liverpool and the immediate result of that is that Best Mate can be backed in the opening Mersey Novices Hurdle without any patriotic feelings intruding.

An obvious Irish angle to the Henrietta Knight-trained horse is Killarney-born jockey Jim Culloty, but he came in for some criticism after Best Mate's excellent second placing to Sausalito Bay in the Supreme Novices Hurdle.

Best Mate finished like a train up the Cheltenham hill and Culloty, it was suggested, had spent too much time covering the hot favourite Youolneverwalkalone. Maybe so, but more importantly it still looked like Best Mate would relish a longer trip and he gets that today.

Ranged against him are some decent types possibly including yesterday's winner Lord Brex but the victory of Phardante Flyer yesterday franked the Cheltenham form, as well as showing that three weeks between races seems to be enough to recover, and Best Mate should be hard to beat.

The most valuable race is the Mumm Melling Chase where the fastish ground looks to have swung the initiative firmly in Direct Route's direction. Flagship Uberalles found the going too quick at Cheltenham where Direct Route was just pipped by Edredon Bleu and this surface, if anything, looks faster. Three Aintree victories in three years looks the scenario for Direct Route.

The big spectacle of the day will be the John Hughes Trophy over one circuit of the Grand National fences where five Irishtrained horses take their chances.

These include the Punchestown banks specialist Risk Of Thunder and the Tommy Carberry-trained Native Status. On this ground, Risk Of Thunder may be happier than most but at decent odds, maybe the hard-pulling Ryhane could be a value each way bet. Sackville could be another each way Irish option in the Grade 1 Sefton Novices Hurdle although the ground is again a question mark. However, Red Ark, who made a bad mistake at the last at Bangor last time, looks the one in the novice handicap chase.

Despite top-weight, the Martin Pipe-trained Auetaler, a fast finisher in the County Hurdle, should go close in the last and Pipe and Tony McCoy must also be respected in the Mumm Novices Chase, a race that hasn't attracted one horse that ran in the SunAlliance, with Upgrade.