I Am Maximus booked his Randox Grand National ticket with an easy victory over last year’s Aintree runner-up Vanillier in the Tote.ie Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse on Saturday.

Trained by Willie Mullins, I Am Maximus was returning to the scene of his finest hour having won the Irish Grand National last season and after this display, he is now a general 12/1 chance for Aintree on April 13th.

Mullins used the Bobbjyo as an Aintree prep for Hedgehunter, who went on to win on Merseyside in 2005, but I Am Maximus looked to face a stiff task giving 12lb away to Gavin Cromwell’s Vanillier.

Jody McGarvey did the steering on the evens favourite, travelling well throughout the near three-mile-two-furlong affair before thoroughly asserting his authority in the straight, cruising home by 14 lengths.

Mullins said: “I thought it was a magnificent performance considering how badly he jumped going away from the stands.

“He just missed one or two there and Jody left him alone and let him find his own feet.

“When he got half down the back and around the fifth last once he saw the stands, I think he just clicked into a another gear.

“I don’t know how good he is but he’s certainly improving with every run. However, he does love Fairyhouse and maybe this is his track, he certainly has an engine.

“It’s very hard to quicken in this ground, he has a big engine in there.

“I’d imagine he goes for the Grand National, he would look a Gold Cup horse in time but I’d imagine Aintree is his objective.

“I’m not worried about ground for him. I don’t know how good he is yet because he just keeps improving.”

Sean Flanagan was not too disappointed with Vanillier’s effort in second, with the gelding having finished a half-length second in the race last year to Kemboy before going on to the National itself.

Vanillier will have a reduced 8lb advantage over I Am Maximus at Aintree and his rider is eager for the big day.

He said: “I’m very happy and I think he’s run better in the race this year than he did last year. There were a lot higher quality horses in the race this year.

“He’s probably got going a bit early in the race, but I wanted to get a proper race into him as I didn’t think they were going to go quick. Without forcing him I was trying to force the tempo of the race. I think he’s ran well.

“I’m looking forward to Aintree.”