The shorter trip is a bit of a concern, as is a penalty, but BRAVE SPARTACUS has now won twice here over fences and seems to have got his act together. He looks the one to beat ahead of stablemate Reasonable Force with Lucky Sunny having lost his way a little lately. Highrate won on his chasing bow at Hexham in November but needs to step up again to follow up here while Hoare Abbey hasn't shown a great deal so far.
Lucky Sunny (IRE) 8-1 (10-12) Held up well in rear, mistake 4th, steady headway headway after 3 out, weakened next, 6th of 11, 32l behind Rhymers Ha' (10-9) at Kelso 2m hcp hdl 0-120 (4) sft in Dec.
Brave Spartacus (IRE) Evensfav (10-13) Made all, mistakes, unextended, won at Catterick 2m 3f hcp chs 0-120 (4) hvy beating Classical Mist (10-12) by 21l, 6 ran.
Highrate (IRE) 6-4fav (11-0) Led, hit and headed 4th, led again 5th, headed before 8th, led again 2 out, ridden after last, kept on well, won at Hexham 2m beg chs (4) hvy in Nov beating Brandon Thomas (11-0) by 4 1/2l, 7 ran.
Hoare Abbey (IRE) 8-1 (11-0) Mid-division, fell 2nd, in a race won by Fulgora (10-1) at Warwick 2m beg chs (4) sft in Dec, 13 ran.
Reasonable Force 9-1 (11-0) In touch, chased leaders after 4 out, weakening when not fluent 2 out, 4th of 9, 34l behind Classical Mist (10-7) at Catterick 2m 3f beg chs (4) gs in Dec.