Putting a line through any of these is difficult, but SHAKE THE BARLEY deserves a change of luck and can get it here from Quito Du Tresor and I'm Your Man. Our pick is 10lbs higher than his last winning mark, but judging by his solid looking second last time this rating of 115 might still be one from which he can win. That second placed effort behind the fast-improving Noune De La Thinte has been franked in no uncertain terms so a 5lb rise for it seems fair and this trip is ideal, so there will be no excuses if this one can't go close. Quito Du Tresor is up 11lbs for a win last time but that was a very good effort and Lucinda Russell's inmate is the one to beat on the back of it. He's contested some better races than this and has done so with credit, so as a six-year-old with room left for improvement he was hard to oppose. I'm Your Man is the old boy of the party but he's put together a really solid run of form lately, so despite the fact he might be a pound or two too high in the weights to score he's still got to enter calculations carrying such a light weight. Strictly speaking Lease Lend has the beating of Quito Du Tresor at these weights but we feel the latter has improved since they met; even so Tim Easterby's charge is likely to make a bold bid to defy top weight. It's noticeable that all of the wins of Miss Pross have come at 2m1f so despite the fact this mare looks reliable enough, she's had many chances over this trip without obliging and a similar tale would seem likely. Contrastingly, General Hardi may well be suited by dropping back in trip and this game front-runner might make this a test and if he jumps well a slight upset could be on the cards. Heavenly Chorus looks to have work to do with our pick so she's worth omitting and other than Super Baby the rest make only limited appeal, so in a tricky race we'll go with Shake The Barley.
Lease Lend 2-1fav (11-9) Held up, hit 4th, chased winner approaching 4 out, one pace from last, lost 2nd towards finish, 3rd of 5, 6l behind Kilkenny All Star (11-0) at Wetherby 2m hcp chs 0-125 (3) sft in Nov.
Osolomio (IRE) 50-1 (10-0) Mistakes, held up in rear when hampered badly, pulled up 15th, in a race won by Garde Champetre (11-12) at Cheltenham 3m 7f hcp chs (2) sft in Dec, 16 ran.
Quito Du Tresor (FR) 12-1 (11-9) Tracked leaders, led 10th, clear after 2 out, ran on well, won at Musselburgh 2m 4f hcp ch 0-110 (4) gd in Jan beating Top Dressing (11-9) by 8l, 12 ran.
Shake The Barley (IRE) 9-2 (11-2) Held up, not fluent 2nd, headway approaching 6th, not fluent 8th, strong challenge last, held close home, 2nd of 13, 3/4l behind Noun De La Thinte (10-4) at Leicester 2m 4f hcp chs 0-120 (3) sft in Dec.
Super Baby (FR) 7-1 (11-5) With leader until approaching 12th, weakened 3 out, 7th of 10, 39l behind Youngstown (11-9) at Catterick 3m 1f hcp chs 0-120 (3) gs in Dec.
Miss Pross 12-1 (11-3) Mid-division, chased leaders when mistake 4 out, soon outpaced, left 5 lengths 2nd next, soon ridden and no impression lost place last, 3rd of 9, 10l behind Carrietau (11-2) at Catterick 2m hcp chs 0-115 (4) sft in Jan.
Or d'Oudairies (FR) 15-2 (11-0) In touch, ridden and lost place after 4 out, soon weakened, 7th of 13, 22l behind Noun De La Thinte (10-5) at Southwell 2m 4f hcp chs 0-130 (3) gs in Jan.
Nouveau Maire (FR) 14-1 (10-10) Held up behind, reminder 8th, soon struggling, lost touch 5 out, pulled up before next, in a race won by Stormin Exit (10-8) at Newcastle 2m 4f hcp chs 0-125 (3) hvy in Jan, 10 ran.
General Hardi 9-2 (11-3) Led, ridden and jumped left and blundered 3 out, soon headed, weakened from 2 out, 3rd of 5, 12l behind Dawn Ride (10-12) at Wetherby 2m 6f hcp chs 0-115 (4) sft in Nov.
Heavenly Chorus 6-1 (10-2) Mid-division, ridden to chase leaders 3 out, 4th, unbeaten when not fluent last, 4th of 13, 16l behind Noun De La Thinte (10-5) at Southwell 2m 4f hcp chs 0-130 (3) gs in Jan.
I'm Your Man 9-1 (11-12) Made virtually all, ridden approaching last, stayed on well, won at Sedgefield 2m 4f hcp hdl 0-90 (5) sft in Jan beating Nightboat To Cairo (10-5) by 3 1/2l, 12 ran.