Strong Leader is set to continue plying his trade in the staying hurdle division, having been handed a Liverpool Hurdle objective by trainer Olly Murphy.
The seven-year-old has shown smart form at Aintree in the past, winning a novice hurdle by eight lengths last term before ending the campaign by finishing a close-up second to Inthepocket over an extended two miles in the Grade One Top Novices’ Hurdle.
Since being well beaten over the minimum trip on his return to action, Strong Leader has gone up in distance, first running well in the Ascot Hurdle before excelling in his first try at three miles on Cheltenham Trials day in the Cleeve Hurdle.
On that occasion, only Stayers’ Hurdle-bound Noble Yeats and Paisley Park finished ahead of Strong Leader.
And with Murphy’s charge holding no graded entries for the Cheltenham Festival, he is set to bypass Prestbury Park in favour of another trip to Merseyside for their Grand National day Grade One.
“He’s going straight to Aintree for the three-mile race,” said Murphy.
“I know everyone talked about Paisley Park and Noble Yeats and rightly so, but he was the unlucky loser. He never jumped a hurdle, didn’t come down the hill and yet was only beaten a length and a quarter.
“He relished the step up to three miles. His sectionals were very good over two miles but he’s always worked like a horse who would want a trip.
“He will go straight to Aintree and whether he will be good enough, I’m not sure, but he’s a very good horse on his day – and the one day it all clicks for him, then he could win a big one.”
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