A fascinating finale with useful jumpers clashing on the level. PIQUE SOUS is chosen to maintain an unbeaten record on the level, having landed a Dundalk contest earlier in the year with the minimum of fuss. Willie Mullins' talented hurdler has plied most of his trade on much softer ground but showed he can handle quicker conditions when a fine third on good ground in the 2012 Cheltenham Festival bumper behind stable companion, Champagne Fever. Ted Veale enjoyed a tremendous jumps campaign in which he simply did nothing but improve. A County Hurdle success at the Cheltenham Festival was followed by a runner-up performance behind Jezki in Grade 1 class at the Punchestown equivalent. However, he may not appreciate the ground as much as the selection. Blackmail houses fair bumper form whilst Encrypted Message is best watched as he seems to have lost his way after landing a Killarney handicap last September.
Encrypted Message (IRE) 25-1 (9-11) Mid-division, 6th 3f out, soon ridden, no impression from 1 1/2f out, 7th of 12, 11l behind Dabadiyan (8-11) at Curragh 1m 4f hcp gf in Jun.
Pique Sous (FR) 4-7fav (9-11) Tracked leaders, 3rd halfway, travelled well to challenge 2f out and soon led, pushed out 'hands and heels' final furlong, easily, won at Dundalk 2m mdn stks pol in Feb beating Raise The Beat (9-11) by 4 1/2l, 14 ran.
Ted Veale (IRE) 7-4fav (9-13) Settled behind leaders in 4th, headway in 3rd over 1f out, ridden to lead last 150 yards, kept on well, won at Sligo 1m 2f mdn stks hvy in Aug beating Brassbound (9-13) by 3/4l, 6 ran.
Time Travel 33-1 (9-6) Soon led and disputed and clear of the remainder with the 3rd, 2nd into straight, no extra from 2f out, 12th of 14, 27l behind Mourani (8-10) at Curragh 1m 4f app stks gf in Jun.
Blackmail (FR) 7-1 (12-0) Led, headed entering straight, soon ridden, no extra in 2nd over 1f out, lost 2nd inside final furlong, 4th closing stages, 4th of 11, 5l behind The Liquidator (12-0) at Punchestown 2m N H flat (1) sft in Apr.
Doctor Deejay (IRE) 12-1 (8-8) Mid-division, weakened from 3f out, 13th of 16, 20l behind First Friday (8-11) at Cork 1m 4f hcp 47-65 sft in Jun '12.
Pyrus Gold Wind (IRE) 7-1 (9-0) Slowly into stride and towards rear, ridden into moderate 7th 2f out, 5th 1f out, kept on one pace, 4th of 11, 14l behind Jack Daddy (9-7) at Ballinrobe 1m 6f mdn stks gd in Jun.
Ringfort (IRE) 25-1 (10-11) Dwelt, towards rear, closed to track leaders 5f out, 4th 1 1/2f out, soon no impression under pressure and kept on same pace, 3rd of 9, 10l behind Grangeclare Gold (10-6) at Ballinrobe 1m 6f mdn stks fm in Jun '10.
Ardkilly Acclaim (IRE) 20-1 (10-12) Always towards rear, no impression from 4 out, never a factor, 13th of 19, well behind Ballinalacken (11-12) at Gowran Park 2m 4f 5yo mdn hdl gf in Jun.