Subscribe now

Big Buck's bestrides day of twists in form and fortunes

If this was a mere overture, then what kind of crescendo might conceivably be achieved here tomorrow? Within a couple of hours Aintree had saluted perhaps the best performance yet from the most accomplished hurdler of recent seasons, in Big Buck's; and a ride of astounding precocity over the National fences by a schoolboy of just 16. In between, moreover, Denman had been beaten out of sight behind Nacarat – whose success, in turn, provided timely succour for his jockey, Paddy Brennan. Timely, that is, not merely because it was only days ago that he quit his position as stable jockey to Nigel Twiston-Davies; but also because the adolescent who promptly won the John Smith's Fox Hunters' Chase showed exactly why things were only going to become more awkward in his old job.

Deep Purple looks ready to rock old star Denman

Back to Liverpool, then, and all its familiar conundrums. For one thing, Saturday's big race so consumes public imagination that some of the best jumpers in training tend to find themselves brusquely neglected in the build-up. The meeting opens today, for instance, with a rematch between Big Buck's and Grands Crus, responsible for one of the most absorbing hurdle races of recent seasons at Cheltenham last month. Later on the card, Denman will be offering further proof of his amazing longevity, having just finished runner-up in the Gold Cup for the third time since his 2008 success.