Utopie Des Bordes finished a long way behind MICKIE at Kempton over Christmas. She's only a couple of pounds better off here and will struggle to turn the tables on Henry Daly's mare, who is a thorough stayer and should handle conditions. The selection did finish behind Highland Retreat, as did Utopie Des Bordes, over 2m6f at Wincanton in November but is 9lb better off now and can complete the hat-trick. Carole's Spirit is still improving judged on her latest victory in a Listed hurdle at Haydock. This will be her first try over 3m but she's tough and should stay. Tweedledrum had no chance in the Long Walk Hurdle last time and faces a stiff task in the weights again today while the trip may be a problem for Prima Porta, who has yet to recapture last season's form.
Carole's Spirit 2-1fav (11-0) Chased leaders, ridden to challenge 3 out, stayed on under pressure to lead after last, stayed on well, won at Haydock 2m 4f mares listed nov hdl (1) sft in Dec beating As I Am (11-5) by 2 1/2l, 8 ran.
Highland Retreat 4-7fav (10-12) Led, ridden and in command between last 2, 3 lengths ahead when went left and blundered last, soon pressed, edged left and stayed on under pressure flat, held on gamely, won at Kempton 3m mrs hdl (listed) (4yo+) (1) gd in Nov beating Weather Babe (10-12) by 1l, 5 ran.
Tweedledrum 100-1 (11-0) Held up in 4th, hit 7th, dropped to rear next, left poor 3rd at the last, tailed off, 3rd of 5, 47l behind Reve De Sivola (11-7) at Ascot 3m 1f hdl G1 (1) sft in Dec.
Utopie Des Bordes (FR) 3-1 (11-7) Chased leading pair, pushed along and outpaced well before 2 out, no extra in 4th approaching 2 out, 4th of 8, 25l behind Mickie (11-5) at Kempton 3m mrs hcp hdl (2) sft in Dec.
Mickie 5-2fav (11-5) Held up in last pair, not much room bend after 4th, headway approaching 4 out, led 3 out, went left 2 out, joined when went left and bumped last, stayed on to assert run-in, won at Kempton 3m mrs hcp hdl (2) sft in Dec beating Cannon Fodder (10-4) by 1l, 8 ran.
Prima Porta 4-1 (11-0) Held up in touch, outpaced after 3 out, ran on flat, unable to trouble leaders, 4th of 7, 3 1/2l behind Glens Melody (11-8) at Warwick 2m 3f mrs lst hdl (1) hvy.