HINTERLAND is impossible to oppose in this opener as he quickened nicely off a strong pace to win a Grade 2 over C&D last month on his first start for Paul Nicholls when Jackies Solitaire was back in fourth. The third, Secret Edge, won easily next time so the form has a solid look about it. Another French import, Tango De Juilley, has his first run since July but the lightly-raced Canna is interesting as his recent second at Gowran was a big step up on his hurdling debut at Cork and Highly Efficient was a decent sort on the level in Ireland and has now joined a leading NH yard.
Hinterland (FR) 6-4fav (11-6) Tracked leaders, went 2nd 3rd, led 5th, jumped right 3 out, driven flat, ran on well, won at Cheltenham 2m 3yo hdl (1) gs in Nov beating Hollow Tree (11-2) by 3l, 9 ran.
Tango De Juilley (FR) (10-1) won at Clairefontaine(FR) 2m 1f hdl sft in Jul beating Volcan Surprise (10-1) by 2l, 16 ran.
Baby Mix (FR) 7-1 (10-3) 5th of 11, 9l behind Esmondo (10-3) at Auteuil(FR) 1m 7f hdl sft in Mar.
Canna (IRE) 11-4fav (11-0) Soon chased leaders, well off pace, closed 4 out, niggled along in close 3rd before straight, 2nd before 2 out where not entirely fluent and again at last when beaten, kept on same pace run-in, 2nd of 16, 4 1/2l behind Wrekin Rock (10-7) at Gowran Park 2m 3yo mdn hdl sft in Nov.
Highly Efficient 11-2 (8-4) Chased leaders, 2nd halfway, improved to lead and dispute 3f out, ridden and headed 1f out, kept on final furlong, no extra close home, 3rd of 16, 1 1/4l behind Hidden Universe (8-13) at Leopardstown 2m hcp sft in Nov (flat).
Scoglio 15-2 (8-11) Mid-division, ridden 3f out, no impression, 6th of 12, 7l behind Minortransgression (9-1) at Southwell 1m hcp 0-52 (6) fbs in Nov (flat).
Hope Point 9-4 (11-4) Held up in touch, headway 4 out, ridden next, no impression on winner, kept on to go 2nd close home, 2nd of 7, 6l behind So Is She (10-12) at Fakenham 2m Fillies Juvenile Hurdle (3yo) (3) gd in Nov.
Jackies Solitaire 28-1 (10-9) Held up in rear, not always fluent, headway on outside 4th, stayed on same pace from 2 out, 4th of 9, 12l behind Hinterland (11-6) at Cheltenham 2m 3yo hdl (1) gs in Nov.