Aintree aim for smart Westerner hurdler

Exciting novice hurdler Minella Forfitness (6g Westerner-Ring Of Water, by Northern Baby) is likely to be aimed at the G2 Mersey Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree after an impressive victory at Doncaster on Monday. Trained by Nicky Henderson for Michael Buckley, the Westerner gelding brushed aside 20 rivals to win the high-class maiden hurdle in excellent style under Barry Geraghty. Minella Forfitness, a winning point-to-pointer, saw off former November Handicap victor Zuider Zee and Cesarewicth scorer Aaim To Prosper to triumph. Although Minella Forfitness holds an entry in the G1 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, Henderson is favouring a trip to Liverpool in April. “He was pretty keen and at halfway I thought I'd made a mistake stepping him up in trip,” Henderson told PA Sport. “Barry said he wasn't as keen as he looked, though, and looking at the race you'd say the first three were much the best. He wants this trip but Aintree could be more his place than Cheltenham.” Minella Forfitness was bred by Gerard Mullins and - having been bought for 65,000 euros as a foal by John Nallen - he was subsequently resold for £130,000 at Cheltenham in April 2011 after his point-to-point victory.