VILLAGE VIC has yet to win over hurdles but has been keeping much better company than this. The highest rated in the race, he can finally get off the mark. Bowie, Expanding Universe and Key To The West all found one too good last time with the latter making most appeal dropping down a grade today. Warden Hill and Tipsy Gypsy are a couple of the less-exposed types that should also go well, but Courtesy Call is preferred. He was considered good enough to make his hurdling bow in a Grade 2 at Kempton and Nicky Henderson has won this contest with a four-year-old before.
Ballycassel (IRE) 13-2 (11-0) Set steady pace, ridden and joined 3 out, headed next, weakened before last, 9th of 10, 44l behind Ericht (10-4) at Fakenham 2m 4f NH mdn hdl (5) sft in Dec.
Bowie (IRE) 5-2 (11-2) Keen tracked leader, hit 6th, lost 2nd 3 out, ridden 2 next, stayed on to regain 2nd run in, 2nd of 7, 6l behind Lucky Landing (10-13) at Market Rasen 2m 3f nh nov hdl (4) sft in Mar.
Expanding Universe (IRE) 5-1 (11-1) Chased clear leader, led soon after 3rd, joined and pressed from 2 out, kept narrow advantage and kept on well flat until headed and not pace of winner close home, 2nd of 13, 3/4l behind Viva Steve (11-1) at Sandown 2m nov hdl (4) sft in Mar.
Firey King (IRE) 20-1 (10-12) Raced keenly, led and clear after 1st, hit 3rd, mistake 5th, reduced lead approaching 4 out, headed soon after 3 out, well held when mistake next, no extra in 3rd flat, 3rd of 10, 11l behind Uncle Jimmy (11-5) at Fontwell 2m 6f nov hdl (4) sft in Feb.
Forresters Folly 25-1 (11-2) Held up towards rear, headway to mid-division 7th, ridden and stayed on same pace approaching 2 out, 5th of 16, 17l behind Ivor's King (10-13) at Ascot 2m 3f nov hcp hdl 0-120 (4) gs in Nov.
Gilbert 200-1 (10-11) Led until 5f out, weakened quickly and soon behind, tailed off, last of 12, well behind Doctor Harper (11-9) at Sandown 2m NH flat (5) gs in Feb.
Kentford Legend 10-1 (11-1) Took keen hold, held up, headway on inside when not fluent 3 out, outpaced by leaders before 2 out, 4th when not fluent last, stayed on same pace, 4th of 16, 21l behind Karinga Dancer (11-1) at Wincanton 2m mdn hdl (4) gs in Mar.
Key To The West (IRE) 8-1 (10-10) Always prominent, hit 3rd, led and hit 3 out, headed before last, no extra flat, 2nd of 10, 6l behind Kaylif Aramis (11-2) at Uttoxeter 2m 4f hcp hdl 0-135 (3) hvy in Mar.
Minellaforlunch (IRE) 16-1 (11-2) Held up in last pair, ridden and headway on outside 6f out, chased leaders over 3f out, edged left and kept on same pace final 2f, never on terms, 6th of 12, 12l behind Silentplan (11-2) at Wetherby 2m NH flat (6) sft in Mar.
Ramona Chase 66-1 (11-2) Restrained well in rear, pulled hard and jumped right, tailed off when went badly right 4 out, eased from next, last of 12, well behind Chatterbox (11-8) at Newbury 2m nh nov hdl (3) sft in Feb.
Sun And Stars 66-1 (10-13) Always towards rear, tailed off, 11th of 12, well behind Doctor Harper (11-9) at Sandown 2m NH flat (5) gs in Feb.
Tipsy Gypsy (IRE) 7-4 (10-12) Held up, headway approaching 6th, mistake 9th, ridden and pressing for 2nd before 2 out, no extra last, 3rd of 10, 16l behind Imperial Vic (11-12) at Catterick 3m 1f nov hdl (4) sft in Feb.
Via Sundown (FR) 8-1 (11-2) Mid-division, not fluent 2nd, headway on inside before 6th, mistake 8th, challenged approaching 2 out, every chance when edged right, edged right final 100 yards, held towards finish, 2nd of 10, 1/2l behind Loudmouth (11-2) at Fontwell 2m 6f nh nov hdl (4) hvy in Mar.
Village Vic (IRE) 8-1 (10-10) In touch in mid-division, closed 5th, weakened before 2 out, 10th of 23, 44l behind Salubrious (11-5) at Cheltenham 2m 4f Conditional Handicap Hurdle (0-145) (4yo+) (2) sft in Mar.
Warden Hill (IRE) 7-4fav (11-2) Took keen hold, raced wide tracking leading pair, went left 6th, went 2nd before led and went left 3 out, headed 2 out, dropped to 3rd before last, rallied to well held 2nd close home, 2nd of 5, 1 3/4l behind Massini Lotto (11-2) at Doncaster 2m 3f nh nov hdl (4) gd in Mar.
Courtesy Call (IRE) 16-1 (10-12) Prominent, went 2nd 3 out, led approaching 2 out, headed between last two, no chance with leading pair, weakened flat, 4th of 7, 12l behind Irish Saint (11-5) at Kempton 2m 4yo hdl Grade 2 (1) gd in Feb.