Traffic Control might prove the best of these in time but he wants further, so our attentions turn to OCKEY DE NEULLIAC ahead of Spellchecker. Ferdy Murphy's strapping son of Cyborg fell at the final obstacle when looking the likely winner last time despite having pulled hard, so providing he settles better and isn't affected by that incident he rates the most likely winner with doubts surrounding the opposition. He won a decent hurdle contest on soft ground and stays further, but that effort at Newcastle showed that a race can come his way over the minimum trip and we feel it could well be this one. Spellchecker is the chief danger for a yard continuing in good form. This six-year-old remains a maiden from 11 starts but his best efforts have come on ground similar to today's and the drop back to the bare two miles could be a good move. He's travelled well more than once and should be found a race at some stage, whilst his official mark of 113 is bettered only by a couple including our pick and Traffic Control. The last named was well backed to take a good race last time but he surely won't have the speed over today's distance so of more interest is Carrietau who won a reasonable handicap last time. He's sure to go off in front and ask questions of his rivals but this return to novice company demands more and he may prove vulnerable in the closing stages. Woody Valentine is the third of those sharing a top rating of 115 and as he won a hurdle race over course and distance many will side with him. Our feeling is that he lacks the scope of some of today's rivals though and a place may be his best hope. Faith And Reason is a talented horse but you don't see many former Godolphin-trained horses running in novice chases and he didn't look a natural when beaten out of site on his fencing debut. There are a few with claims in this race but none appeal more than Ockey De Neulliac and he gets a strong vote.
Another Charmer (IRE) 100-1 (11-0) Tracked winner, jumped slowly 2nd, led 6th to 8th, outpaced 11th, soon lost touch, tailed off, 3rd of 5, well behind John Forbes (11-0) at Catterick 2m 3f beg chase (4) sft in Jan.
Carrietau 13-2 (11-2) With leader, led 2nd, made most after, hard pressed when left 5 lengths clear 3 out, soon ridden, held on under pressure flat, won at Catterick 2m hcp chs 0-115 (4) sft in Jan beating Drever Route (11-7) by 1 3/4l, 9 ran.
Faith And Reason (USA) 20-1 (11-2) Held up, blundered 1st, never on terms, 12th of 14, 38l behind Double Vodka (11-2) at Catterick 2m 3f beg chs (4) sft in Dec.
Ockey De Neulliac (FR) 7-1 (11-7) Held up in rear, headway approaching 3 out, ridden to challenge next, upsides and every chance when fell last, in a race won by Blacks Bridge (11-3) at Newcastle 2m nov hcp chs 0-115 (4) hvy in Jan, 6 ran.
Quick Fix (IRE) 17-2 (10-10) Led to 2nd, chased winner until after 3 out, weakened 2 out, 5th of 8, well behind Pickamus (10-13) at Huntingdon 2m 4f nov chs 0-115 (4) sft in Dec.
Smugglers Bay (IRE) 8-1 (11-0) Tracked leading pair, mistake 2nd and next, chased winner 8th, driven 3 out, 8 lengths down when not fluent last, lost 2nd flat, 3rd of 7, 13l behind Diamond Frontier (11-0) at Newcastle 2m beg chase (4) sft in Jan.
Spellchecker (IRE) 9-4fav (11-0) Tracked leaders, chased winner from 5th, no impression, 2nd of 9, 8l behind Jim Tango (11-0) at Catterick 2m 3f mdn chs (5) gs in Dec.
Traffic Control (IRE) 8-1 (11-1) Held up in rear, blundered 11th, headway when blundered 13th, weakened and blundered 2 out, tailed off, 7th of 13, well behind Doctor Pat (10-13) at Newbury 2m 6f nov hcp chs 0-130 (3) hvy in Dec.
Woody Valentine (USA) 50-1 (10-8) Mid-division, outpaced 3 out, effort under pressure next, soon ridden, kept on, 4th of 13, 6l behind Sendali (10-0) at Catterick 2m 3f hcp hdl 0-130 (3) sft in Jan.