Former Grand National-winning jockey Jim Culloty had the ideal preparation for this year's race with victory on Cassia Heights on the second day of the Aintree meeting.
Culloty, who won the world's most famous steeplechase on Bindaree in 2002, steered the 33-1 shot Cassia Heights to victory in the Topham Chase, the only race of the day to be run over the National fences.
Culloty's weighing room colleague Tom Best picked up the biggest win of his career when guiding Accipiter to victory in the Martell Cognac Sefton Novices' Hurdle.
And two other less-heralded jockeys, Joe Tizzard and Robert Thornton, both found themselves in the winner's enclosure on what was a bad day for several leading riders.
Ruby Walsh, Mick Fitzgerald and Carl Llewellyn all took heavy falls and must pass Saturday morning fitness tests before riding in the Grand National.
1730 Martell Cognac Somerfield Handicap Hurdle
1 His Nibs (J Tizzard) 14-1
2 Keepatem (D Casey) 17-2
3 Strong Project (P Carberry) 14-1
4 Legal Lunch (G Lee) 14-1
20 ran. Dist: 2, 1½.
Joe Tizzard picks up a late spare ride that proves very profitable when His Nibs comes home two lengths in front.
Tizzard was deputising for Sam Thomas, who had been taken to hospital with facial cuts after a fall earlier in the afternoon.
Tizzard rode a waiting race on His Nibs, making his move at the final fence and holding off Irish challenger Keepatem.
1655 Martell Cognac Sainsbury's Mildmay Novices' Hurdle
1 Simply Supreme (R McGrath) 13-2
2 L'Aventure (R McNally) 16-1
3 Double Honour (R Johnson) 9-1
11 ran. Dist: 12, 25.
Simply Supreme, ridden by Richard McGrath, lived up to his name with a runaway victory.
Royal & SunAlliance Chase winner Rule Supreme unseated David Casey on the
first circuit, while 5-2 favourite Royal Emperor and leader See You Sometime
both came down at the 11th fence.
That left Simply Supreme at the head of affairs and he galloped home in
splendid isolation to claim the Grade Two event for trainer Sue Smith.
1620 Martell Cognac Sefton Novices' Hurdle
1 Accipiter (T Best) 14-1
2 Grey Report (R Johnson) 11-2
3 Champagne Harry (D Russell) 20-1
13 ran. Dist: ¾, 13.
The Toby Balding-trained Accipiter fended off the late challenge of Grey Report to win the Grade One race.
Grey Report looked to be well beaten at the final turn but found a second wind to stay on well.
But he cannot get the better of Accipiter, who gave young jockey Tom Best the biggest win of his career.
Favourite Cornish Rebel, a full brother to three-time Gold Cup winner Best Mate, trailed home a disappointing last.
1545 Martell Cognac Topham Chase
1 Cassia Heights (J Culloty) 33-1
2 Longshanks (J McNamara) 10-1
3 Scotmail Boy (G Lee) 14-1
4 Flinders Chase (N Fehily) 66-1
29 ran. Dist: 1,¾.
The only contest of the day to be ridden over the National fences brings another big-race win for Jim Culloty.
The three-time Gold Cup-winning jockey held off a late challenge from the fast-finishing Longshanks to win for trainer Steve Brookshaw.
There was a big pile-up at the infamous Becher's Brook, where nine horses fell - all are unscathed but jockey Carl Llewellyn sprained a thumb and decided to forfeit the rest of his rides for the day.
There had been a big gamble before the race on Joly Bey but the 5-1 favourite fell at the fourth last when looking to be travelling very well.
Thirteen of the 29 runners finish the race.
1510 Martell Cognac Melling Chase
1 Moscow Flyer (B Geraghty) Evens fav
2 Isio (M Fitzgerald) 4-1
3 Native Upmanship (C O'Dwyer) 5-1
7 ran. Dist: 6, 13
Moscow Flyer gets back to winning ways at Aintree, having unseated jockey Barry Geraghty in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham.
Long-time leader Isio put up a good fight but 2003 Champion Chaser Moscow Flyer pulled away from the last to give victory for Irish trainer Jessica Harrington.
Native Upmanship, winner of the race for the past two years, was a long way back in third.
Le Roi Miguel fell at the last fence on the back straight but horse and jockey get up unscathed.
1435 Premier Convenience Stores Top Novices' Hurdle
1 Royal Shakespeare (R Thornton) 25-1
2 Contraband (A McCoy) 14-1
3 Fleet Street (M Fitzgerald) 4-1
12 ran. Dist: Nk, 4.
The finish of the meeting so far sees Robert "Chocolate" Thornton pip champion jockey Tony McCoy right on the line.
McCoy had given Contraband a typically positive ride and managed to steal a march on the field in the early stages, an advantage which he held until the dying strides.
But the horse began to tire after the last and Royal Shakespeare - who was tipped by pundit Lydia Hislop in her BBC Sport website preview - just snatched a 25-1 victory for trainer Steve Gollings.
1400 Martell Cognac Ember Inns Handicap Chase
1 Lord of the River (P Carberry) 9-1
2 Midland Flame (J Culloty) 9-2
3 Un Jour a Vassy (R McNally) 20-1
14 ran. Dist: 7, 2½
Trainer Nicky Henderson, who endured a miserably barren Cheltenham Festival, opens his Aintree account with veteran Lord of the River.
Paul Carberry gives the 12-year-old an intelligently aggressive ride and he leads for most of the second circuit.
Coming to the last, there are four or five in with a chance but Lord of the River pulls away to win comfortably.