Oscar Whisky is bidding for a hat-trick in this Grade 1 and connections have hopefully abandoned any further thoughts of running him over 3m after he was pulled up in the World Hurdle at Cheltenham. The eight-year-old shouldn't be far away while Countrywide Flame and Zarkandar, third and fourth in the Champion Hurdle, will have their supporters trying an extra half-mile. Grandouet still appeared to be travelling well when falling in the Champion Hurdle and could also play a part but Willie Mullins' Thousand Stars has been found wanting at this level this term and neither Fontwell winner Prospect Wells nor Saphir River appear to have the class to win a race like this. Nigel Twiston-Davies has never disguised the regard in which he holds THE NEW ONE and this race will indicate whether he not he is ready to take on the big names in the Champion Hurdle next year. The five-year-old won the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle at The Festival last month without breaking sweat and his only defeat so far over hurdles came at the hands of another impressive Cheltenham winner. He can pass his biggest test so far with flying colours as the quicker ground will suit.
Countrywide Flame 16-1 (11-10) Prominent, ridden approaching 2 out, not much room briefly on bend before last, pressing for 2nd at last, stayed on flat, no impression on front pair towards finish, 3rd of 9, 4 1/2l behind Hurricane Fly (11-10) at Cheltenham 2m hdl G1 (1) sft in Mar.
Grandouet (FR) 13-2 (11-10) Tracked leaders in 4th, still going well when fell 5th, in a race won by Hurricane Fly (11-10) at Cheltenham 2m hdl G1 (1) sft in Mar, 9 ran.
Oscar Whisky (IRE) 9-4fav (11-10) Mid-division, not fluent 5th, outpaced 3 out, soon beaten, tailed off when pulled up before last, in a race won by Solwhit (11-10) at Cheltenham 3m hdl G1 (1) gs in Mar, 13 ran.
Prospect Wells (FR) 3-1 (11-3) Raced wide tracked leading pair, went 2nd 4 out, led just before 2 out, came clear before last, ridden and stayed on strongly, easily, won at Fontwell 2m 4f hdl G2 (1) sft in Feb beating Meister Eckhart (11-3) by 7l, 6 ran.
Raya Star (IRE) 5-1 (11-6) Held up in touch in rear, headway when mistake 3 out, soon ridden, no impression 2 out, weakened before last, 5th of 6, 17l behind Zarkandar (11-10) at Wincanton 2m hdl G2 (1) hvy in Feb.
Saphir River (FR) 50-1 (10-10) In rear, outpaced 3 out, stayed on under pressure from next, never nearer, 10th of 28, 14l behind Medinas (11-10) at Cheltenham 2m 5f hcp hdl Grade 3 (1) gs in Mar.
The New One (IRE) 7-2 (11-7) Tracked leaders, led before last, driven clear flat, ran on strongly, won at Cheltenham 2m 5f nov hdl Grade 1 (1) gs in Mar beating Rule The World (11-7) by 4l, 8 ran.
Thousand Stars (FR) 1-2fav (11-10) Waited with, closer order in 5th 4 out, struggling next and dropped to last before 2 out, no extra, last of 6, 41l behind On His Own (11-3) at Navan 2m 5f hdl G2 (1) hvy in Feb.
Zarkandar (IRE) 7-2 (11-10) Tracked leader, pushed along approaching 3 out, driven and lost 2nd just before next, no impression on front trio after last, weakened final 75 yards, 4th of 9, 7l behind Hurricane Fly (11-10) at Cheltenham 2m hdl G1 (1) sft in Mar.