WEST END ROCKER looks tailor-made for this race and is preferred to Chief Dan George, Chiaro and Merigo. Alan King's gelding was sold at the Cheltenham sales this week but has remained in the yard. His jumping is not always the best but stamina is his forte, he has no ground worries and his earlier form this season with Big Fella Thanks and Wichita Lineman has been irrefutably franked since. Chief Dan George is expected to run a big race by his trainer and he has transferred his hurdling ability to fences. He has been campaigned with this race in mind all season and he looks nicely weighted from his mark of 139. Out The Black is a consistent old stick but the handicapper may now have his measure following a 4lb rise for his recent defeat, so a bigger threat may be Chiaro who is as slow as a boat but he stays all day and this looks the sort of test he will relish; his jockey Rhys Flint has his work cut out today. Barry Geraghty is an interesting jockey booking for Sound Accord who looks sure to be suited by this trip, comments that also apply to Eider Chase winner Merigo and course winner King Barry. Dear Villez has stamina issues and top-weight will hardly help, Tricky Trickster impressed at Cheltenham but one cannot help but feel that that race was his target, whilst Hello Bud is ridden by stable jockey Paddy Brennan and impressed with his recent success at Wincanton but this is much tougher. Coe's form reads well and it will be interesting to see how he jumps after his fall, similar comments apply to Brooklyn Brownie, whilst Gone To Lunch was abject in the RSA Chase and it will be interesting to see how he fares today over this longer trip. Sea Diva could be an interesting Irish raider for Dessie Hughes, whilst Nine De Sivola represents Ferdy Murphy who loves to win this race. He has been placed in this race before but he has also been placed another eight times over fences and even with first-time cheek-pieces on his is taken on with the progressive novice West End Rocker.
Dear Villez (FR) 16-1 (11-3) Mid-division, headway 16th, ridden after 3 out, disputing close 5th when hit 2 out, stayed on same pace, 4th of 21, 7l behind Wichita Lineman (10-9) at Cheltenham 3m hcp chs G3 (1) gs in Mar.
Tricky Trickster (IRE) 11-1 (11-11) Held up towards rear, steady progress from 12th, mistake 17th, led after 4 out, stayed on strongly from last, ridden out, won at Cheltenham 4m amat chs (2) gs in Mar beating Drumconvis (11-11) by 10l, 19 ran.
Gone To Lunch (IRE) 7-1 (11-4) Chasing leaders when stumbled very badly and lost place 9th, never recovered, pulled up before 4 out, in a race won by Cooldine (11-4) at Cheltenham 3m nov chs G1 (1) gs in Mar, 15 ran.
Brooklyn Brownie (IRE) 22-1 (10-6) Mid-division, fell 2nd, in a race won by Mon Mome (11-0) at Aintree 4m 4f (1) gs, 40 ran.
Chief Dan George (IRE) 11-4fav (11-3) Mid-division, close up 8th, every chance 3 out, ridden after last, soon led and kept on, won at Kelso 2m 6f nov stks (2) gd in Mar beating Sa Suffit (11-6) by 3 1/2l, 9 ran.
West End Rocker (IRE) 7-2 (11-4) In touch, chased leader 6th, led 9th, not fluent 13th, jump right 4f out and 2f out, ridden before last, headed flat, not quicken, 2nd of 6, 2 1/2l behind Shining Gale (11-8) at Warwick 3m nov stks (3) gd in Mar.
Nine De Sivola (FR) 16-1 (11-7) Held up towards rear, ridden after 4 out, headway after 2 out, stayed on well approaching last, went 3rd towards finish, nearest finish, 3rd of 19, 10l behind Tricky Trickster (11-11) at Cheltenham 4m amat chs (2) gs in Mar.
Sound Accord (IRE) 9-2 (11-8) Tracked leaders, carried right 12th, not fluent next, reminded after 14th, went 3rd 3f out, weakened flat, 3rd of 6, 9l behind Shining Gale (11-8) at Warwick 3m nov stks (3) gd in Mar.
Coe (IRE) 15-2 (11-11) Held up towards rear, headway after 5th, tracked leaders 8th, ridden approaching 3 out, struggling in 6th when fell 2 out, in a race won by Tricky Trickster (11-11) at Cheltenham 4m amat chs (2) gs in Mar, 19 ran.
Merigo (FR) 5-1 (11-1) In touch, every chance 3 out, soon ridden, switched right approaching last, stayed on well under pressure to lead near finish, won at Newcastle 4m 1f hcp chs (2) hvy in Feb beating Morgan Be (11-3) by 1/2l, 13 ran.
According To John (IRE) 6-1 (10-1) Chased leaders, mistake 12th, weakened approaching 2 out, 4th of 15, 28l behind Don't Push It (10-11) at Aintree 3m 1f hcp chs (2) gs.
Arteea (IRE) 200-1 (10-5) Towards rear, headway under pressure 3 out, effort on outside approaching 2 out, weakened last, 10th of 40, 39l behind Mon Mome (11-0) at Aintree 4m 4f (1) gs.
Out The Black (IRE) 7-2fav (11-0) In touch, headway to chase leaders after 14th, challenged 2 out, led approaching last, headed flat, kept on towards finish, 2nd of 12, nk behind Briery Fox (10-7) at Ascot 3m hcp chs 0-145 (2) gd in Mar.
Hello Bud (IRE) 9-1 (11-12) Made all, shaken up 3 out, went clear 2 out, driven out flat, won at Wincanton 3m 3f hcp chs 0-130 (3) gd beating College Ace (11-5) by 5l, 7 ran.
That's Rhythm (FR) Evensfav (11-0) Tracked leader, led 12th, clear approaching last, won at Bangor 3m beg chase (4) gd in Mar beating Calusa Caldera (11-0) by 15l, 5 ran.
Chiaro (FR) 6-1 (11-12) Always prominent, led 19th, jumped left 3 out, went left last and flat, ridden out, won at Hereford 3m 7f hcp chs 0-125 (3) gd in Mar beating Fine By Me (9-12) by 2 1/4l, 10 ran.
Sea Diva (IRE) 20-1 (10-10) Held up in rear, reminder 6th, headway approaching 18th, beaten before 2 out, 4th of 15, 10l behind Russian Trigger (10-9) at Uttoxeter 4m 1f lstd hcp chs (1) sft in Mar.
King Barry (FR) 7-2 (11-8) Tracked leaders, ridden after 3 out, kept on one pace, 3rd of 7, 2 1/2l behind Mister Apple's (9-9) at Kelso 3m 4f hcp chs 0-135 (3) gd in Mar.
Le Toscan (FR) 100-1 (9-11) Mid-division, struggling 12th (Canal Turn), 14th of 29, well behind Irish Raptor (10-0) at Aintree 2m 5f hcp chs (2) gd.
Native Coral (IRE) 11-1 (10-3) Mid-division, headway and in touch 5 out, ridden to chase winner 2 out, lost 2nd flat, kept on, 3rd of 13, 12l behind Big Fella Thanks (11-2) at Doncaster 3m lstd hcp chs (1) sft in Jan.
L'Aventure (FR) 11-2 (11-2) Chased leaders, pushed along after 16th, outpaced 19th, rallied approaching last, kept on flat, grabbed 3rd near finish, 3rd of 10, 4l behind Chiaro (11-12) at Hereford 3m 7f hcp chs 0-125 (3) gd in Mar.