MORNING Assembly is firmly on course for the Crabbie's Grand National after returning home safe and sound following an excellent run at the Cheltenham Festival.
Pat Fahy's stable star claimed the scalp of Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Don Cossack as a novice a couple of seasons ago, but has since spent the best part of two years on the sidelines.
Following a couple of readying efforts, the nine-year-old crossed the Irish Sea to contest the Ultima Handicap Chase at Prestbury Park last Tuesday and ran a race full of promise to finish fourth.
Fahy said: "He came back from Cheltenham well. He didn't have any cuts or bruises and we rode him out for the first time since this morning and he seems in great form.
"The Aintree National is definitely the plan and with Don Cossack winning the Gold Cup, you would have to say on his best form he must go there with a great chance.
"I was delighted with how he jumped in Cheltenham and it just proved the run before in Gowran was down to the ground. He just couldn't jump out of it that day.
"He was much better last week, apart from the third-last where he just took off too far off it.
"It's credit to the horse and to Davy (Russell) that he stood up as he barely made it. But for that he would definitely have been an easy third.
"We've plenty time enough before Aintree. He's all the work done and he's in tip-top shape, so it's just a case of freshening him up and giving him a couple of blows.
"I'm happy with where we are with the horse."
Fahy is keeping his fingers crossed Russell will be on board again at Aintree on April 9th.
"Hopefully Davy will ride him," the trainer added.
"Davy is one of the cutest jockeys around and knows the horse well.
"He might have other commitments, so we'll just have to wait and see."