Bookmakers held sway on day one of the Randox Grand National Festival at Aintree after winners at a variety of prices.
The first half of the action belonged to former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who bagged a hat-trick as co-owner of the winners of the first three races.
Protektorat (17-2) kicked off proceedings in the SSS Super Alloys Manifesto Novices’ Chase with a surprise victory for Dan and Harry Skelton.
Trainer Paul Nicholls and jockey Harry Cobden then fired in the next two, with Monmiral (10-11 favourite) in the Doom Bar Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle and Clan Des Obeaux (5-2 favourite) in the Betway Bowl Chase.
But the last four winners went the way of the layers, as Abacadabras (5-1) in the Betway Aintree Hurdle was followed by 66-1 stunner Cousin Pascal in the Rose Paterson Randox Foxhunters’ Open Hunters’ Chase.
It was a similar story in the final two races way with Editeur Du Gite (9-1) having things all his own way in the Close Brothers Red Rum Handicap Chase and Me Too Please (14-1) winning the Goffs UK Nickel Coin Mares’ Bumper, where evens favourite Eileendover was only fourth.
Rupert Adams of William Hill said: “It was an excellent day for us.
“Protektorat was not very well backed whereas Hitman and The Shunter were in that race. We got off to a flier and it carried on.
“Clan Des Obeaux was not as well backed as you would imagine. Even Monmiral did not cost us that much.
“Jason The Militant would have been our worst result today by some way, but he fell (in the Aintree Hurdle). Then the prices of the last three made it a cracking first day.”
The long-priced winners saw Paddy Power come out on top in the first-day skirmish.
Their spokesman Paul Binfield said: “It was a small winning day for us and we’ll happily take that given Sir Alex scooped a hat-trick in Liverpool, including two favourites in the first three races.
“Two big-priced winners, including a 66-1 chance, assisted the bookies in no uncertain terms.”