Alan King notched the first winner of Aintree's Grand National meeting as his filly L'unique stormed to a surprise 10/1 victory in the Anniversary 4-Y-O Novices' Hurdle in what was a race dominated by a couple of outsiders.
Ruby Walsh set the early fractions on board Irish Saint, but turning for home, he along with Rolling Star were unable to quicken up and it was Wayne Hutchinson who came flying on board L'unique who readily quickened to pull clear of the staying on Runswick Royal to land the spoils for the Barbury Castle team.
2013 Anniversary 4-Y-O Novices' Hurdle Result:
1. L'unique (W Hutchinson) 10/1
2. Runswick Royal (K Renwick) 20/1
3. Irish Saint (R Walsh) 3/1
The Anniversary 4-Y-O Novices' Hurdle is a Grade One race run at Aintree over two miles, 110 yards for horses aged four years old.
Having originally be titled the Lancashire Hurdle and run as a Grade Two contest, it changed its name and was promoted to its current status and is now one of the highlights of the Aintree Grand National meeting.
Only open to four-year-olds the race is often competed by horses that have contested the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival the month before and some have managed to bag both crowns in the space of a month.
Recent winners include Detroit City, who won the Triumph at the 2006 Cheltenham Festival before heading to Merseyside to lift the 4-y-o Novices' Hurdle a month later for trainer Philip Hobbs, whilst Alan King's Katchit emulated that feat the following year.
However, Katchit was a horse that would use this contest as a springboard and having notched up the novice double, he then returned to the Cheltenham Festival and was a gallant winner of the 2008 Champion Hurdle.
Binocular won the 2008 renewal at Aintree and then copied Katchit's achievements by going on to lift the coveted Champion Hurdle crown at the Cheltenham Festival to show this is generally won by a potential hurdling superstar.
Zarkandar was a classy recruit for Paul Nicholls in the 2011 season and he would be another who'd etch his name in both this trophy and in the Triumph Hurdle as he stormed to victory in both for the Ditcheat team and is bound to progress when tacking the creme de la creme of the hurdling scene in future seasons.