FINIAN'S RAINBOW's only defeat over fences remains his second to Captain Chris in last year's Arkle Chase. Nicky Henderson's nine-year-old survived a serious blunder on the final circuit to beat today's rivals Wishfull Thinking and Oiseau De Nuit a shade cosily on his comeback at Kempton and, though he possibly lacks the class of some previous winners of this Grade 1 contest, looks the one to beat. Al Ferof is the least exposed in the race having only had two starts over the larger obstacles. He was all out to beat For Non Stop at Sandown last month, however, and the second has been beaten since in novice company. Somersby found only Master Minded too good 12 months ago and has the beating of Gauvain and I'm So Lucky on that run. But he probably prefers a longer trip nowadays while it's a long time since Forpadydeplasterer was in the winner's enclosure, though it would be no surprise to see the Irish raider sneak into a place again.
Al Ferof (FR) 4-11fav (11-2) In touch, tracked leading pair approaching 3rd, joined leader 10th, led 3 out, ridden and hard pressed flat, held on near finish, won at Sandown 2m nov chs Grade 1 (4yo+) (1) gs in Dec beating For Non Stop (11-2) by nk, 7 ran.
Finian's Rainbow (IRE) 4-11fav (11-5) Led, narrowly headed when blundered badly lost hind legs and dropped to 3rd 4 out, given chance to recover, rallied and stayed on approaching last, driven ahead again final 120 yards, won at Kempton 2m Grade 2 chs (4yo+) (1) gd in Dec beating Wishfull Thinking (11-6) by 3/4l, 6 ran.
Forpadydeplasterer (IRE) 10-1 (11-12) Led, ridden entering straight, narrowly headed and pecked last, no extra run-in, 3rd of 5, 6l behind Big Zeb (11-12) at Leopardstown 2m 1f chs G1 (1) in Dec.
Gauvain (GER) 15-2 (11-6) Held up in touch, headway to go 2nd 4 out, led before 2 out, driven clear between last 2, ridden and edged left flat, stayed on well, won at Huntingdon 2m 4f Grade 2 chs (4yo+) (1) gs in Dec beating Somersby (11-6) by 4 1/2l, 8 ran.
I'm So Lucky 25-1 (11-9) Hed up towards rear, hit 3 out, headway on inside before 2 out, weakened betwen last 2, 9th of 15, 21l behind Ciceron (10-12) at Sandown 2m hcp hdl 0-145 (2) sft.
Oiseau de Nuit (FR) 14-1 (11-6) Tracked leading pair, went 2nd 6th, led 4 out, slight advantage when blundered last, ridden and headed final 120 yards, no extra in 3rd closing stages, 3rd of 6, 2 1/2l behind Finian's Rainbow (11-5) at Kempton 2m Grade 2 chs (4yo+) (1) gd in Dec.
Somersby (IRE) 12-1 (11-10) Tracked leaders, headway to track leading pair 14th to before 3 out, soon no impression, 4th of 7, 19l behind Kauto Star (11-10) at Kempton 3m Grade 1 chs (4yo+) (1) gs in Dec.
Wishfull Thinking 10-3 (11-6) Held up in rear, good headway 6th, disputing close 2nd when blundered badly and stumbled on landing 4 out, soon recovered to chase leader, challenged from 3 out, driven to narrow lead final 120 yards, edged right no extra and headed close home, 2nd of 6, 3/4l behind Finian's Rainbow (11-5) at Kempton 2m Grade 2 chs (4yo+) (1) gd in Dec.