The Pretender has something to prove after disappointing at Warwick and Black Noddy was another that failed to live up to expectations last time. Gleann Eagas is still heading in the right direction, however, and Hadrian's Approach will be backed to follow up last month's success over 2m6f here with his stable in cracking form. But the latter has to give 10lb to GROVE PRIDE, who was up against a couple of decent novices when third at Haydock last time. He could finally get off the mark here though Diamond Life could be worth noting for future reference.
Hadrian's Approach (IRE) 11-10fav (11-0) Held up in rear, steady headway on outside approaching 4 out, chased leaders next, went 2nd soon after 2 out, led last, edged right under pressure flat, driven to assert final 100 yards, won at Ascot 2m 6f NH mdn hdl (3) sft in Dec beating Fighting Flynn (11-0) by 1l, 13 ran.
Gleann Eagas (IRE) 13-2 (11-2) With leaders on outside, disputed lead 6th, every chance 2 out to before last, soon ridden and no impression with leading pair, 3rd of 14, 12l behind Salubrious (10-10) at Taunton 2m 3f nh nov hdl (4) gs in Dec.
Balbriggan (IRE) 66-1 (11-0) Chased leaders, slow 2nd, weakened 3 out, 8th of 13, well behind Hadrian's Approach (11-0) at Ascot 2m 6f NH mdn hdl (3) sft in Dec.
Be All Man (IRE) 9-2 (11-6) With leader, led 3rd, headed after next, led again before 5th, headed 3 out, no extra 2 out, 4th of 15, 17l behind Joseph Lister (10-10) at Huntingdon 2m 4f nh nov hdl (4) gs.
Black Noddy (IRE) 2-1 (10-12) Tracked leaders, lost place 4 out, weakened before next, 6th of 15, 45l behind Hinton Indiana (10-9) at Leicester 2m 4f nh nov hdl (4) gd in Dec.
Diamond Life 14-1 (11-7) Tracked leaders, led over 7f out, headed well over 1f out, soon weakened, 3rd of 12, 11l behind Trespasser (10-2) at Taunton 2m 1f mdn nat hunt flat (5) gd in Dec.
Frizzo (FR) 7-2 (11-5) Held up mid-division, weakened after 3 out, 7th of 12, 34l behind Oscar Nominee (11-2) at Southwell 2m NH mdn hdl (5) gs.
Glasson Lad (IRE) 7-1 (11-0) Held up behind leaders, jumped left 6th and 9th, soon weakened, lost remote 3rd latter stages, 4th of 8, 40l behind Allow Me (11-0) at Musselburgh 2m 4f mdn hdl (5) gd in Nov.
Grove Pride 5-1 (10-12) Held up in touch, jumped right 1st, led on paddocek bend after 2nd, jumped right, bumped and headed 4th, 3rd and beaten when again jumped right last, no extra, 3rd of 9, 14l behind Highland Lodge (11-5) at Haydock 2m 4f nh nov hdl (4) hvy in Dec.
Peg Leg 10-1 (10-9) Tracked leaders, ridden 5f out, weakened over 3f out, tailed off, 7th of 13, 44l behind My Tent Or Yours (11-2) at Ludlow 1m 6f nhf (5) gs in Dec.
The Pretender (FR) 5-2fav (10-12) Took keen hold, held up towards rear, headway approaching 4 out, chased leaders next, weakened before 2 out, 6th of 15, 16l behind Sole Survivor (10-12) at Warwick 2m nov hdl (4) gd in Nov.