RACING: Mercer Has Lively Chance at Aintree

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HAVING tasted a home victory at Aintree last year, jockey Keith Mercer is keen to repeat the feat this weekend.

The 23-year-old Merseysider scored aboard Lazy But Lively in the Jockeys Challenge Handicap Hurdle. And the Roger Fisher-trained gelding is just one of the rides Mercer hopes will bring up another success at this weekend's two-day meeting at the Liverpool track.

From up-and-coming rider to Scottish National winner, it has been a lively 12 months for the jockey who was brought up not far from Aintree in Altcar near Formby.

The win aboard Joe's Edge for trainer Ferdy Murphy in the Ayr marathon in April capped Mercer's best season in the saddle, where he ended with 40 winners.

Today he has three rides, but it is tomorrow where he feels he has his best chance of an Aintree victory.

He is again being reunited with Lazy But Lively, a horse on whom he has an excellent record. His victory in the 3m 1/2f Handicap Hurdle last November was his third win in five races over both hurdles and fences on the nine-year-old. His initial victory in December 2003 at Sedgefield aboard the Supreme Leader gelding was also his first as a conditional jockey in Britain after his spending his formative years in the saddle riding in Ireland as a teenager.

Now he is hoping to continue their fruitful partnership over the same course and distance in the Digital Prints From Handicap Hurdle tomorrow (2.15pm). Although this time Lazy But Lively will be carrying a stone and a half more than his victory in the first of a six-race card on the Pirates of Aintree family fun-day.

Mercer said: "He has always been very good to me. He was my first winner in England and has won for me before at Aintree. He would relish softer conditions and must have a great chance again. …