Aintree has witnessed many memorable races over the years in its illustrious history, but very few have been as keenly anticipated as Sprinter Sacre's appearance in the John Smith's Melling Chase.

The Nicky Henderson-trained seven-year-old took his unbeaten record over fences to eight when trouncing Sizing Europe by 19 lengths in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

Now he steps up in trip to two and a half miles and has worthy adversaries in the form of Ryanair Chase victor Cue Card and the talented Irish raider Flemenstar.

"It's got to be one of the races of the season," said the Seven Barrows trainer.

"Everything has gone really well with Sprinter Sacre since Cheltenham and it's all systems go.

"We were taking to his breeders after Cheltenham and looking back through his dam's side there is stamina everywhere - they can't believe he has been running over two (miles).

"You can't teach him to go that extra half a mile - he just does his own thing.

"Aintree and Cheltenham are two different tracks, but we've got to try something new.

"At least if we venture out of the two-mile zone we find something else about him."

"Flemenstar travelled over perfect and went to sleep going over" - Peter Casey

Finian's Rainbow was last year's Champion Chase winner and was successful in this race as well.

The bad winter has not helped his cause this season and Henderson is hoping conditions will have improved enough to give him a helping hand on Merseyside.

"We missed Cheltenham as he has to have good ground, so I hope they are not putting too much water on," he said.

"He's been waiting all year to get on some decent ground.

"Barry (Geraghty) said when he won last year that was as soft as he'd want it even then. He wants good ground."

Flemenstar missed Cheltenham with a lung infection but has now fully recovered.

Trainer Peter Casey is intrigued to see how the race unfolds.

"He's been over there since Tuesday. He travelled over perfect and went to sleep going over," said the County Meath handler.

"I suppose there's two of them that will go to the front and we will stay up there either upsides or just behind them and see what happens.

"I don't really know what will happen. He's in good form."

His rider Andrew Lynch believes Flemenstar's absence from Cheltenham could be a blessing in disguise.

"Of the three horses, he's probably the freshest of the lot because he didn't go to Cheltenham," Lynch told At The Races.

"He's dropping back to two and a half miles but he's up against Sprinter Sacre, who's a hell of a good horse and Cue Card as well. I can't wait.

"I sat on him last week and he seems to be in good form. He's got over his bug, so hopefully he'll be spot-on for Friday. It was only a minor thing and he was over it quick enough.

"My lad is straightforward enough. He can be handy or we can drop him in.

"He's a good jumper so if everything goes well and he gets into a rhythm he'll have a good chance."