A competitive start to proceedings and from a shortlist of NORTHERN ALLIANCE, Chapoturgeon, Tranquil Sea and Naiad du Misselot we will side with Northern Alliance. There is a slight worry about the form of Tony Martin's horses but the way this horse won a Grade 2 novices' chase at Punchestown last November made a lasting impression. He looked in need of the run at Navan last month, but with that pipe-opener under his belt he should be spot-on for this and with the ground to suit he looks the one to beat. Chapoturgeon was a smart hurdler and he looks like he could develop into a very useful chaser. He was an impressive scorer at Doncaster last time but the race has not worked out particularly well and it remains to be seen if this step-up in trip will play to his strengths. Tranquil Sea looked in need of the run at Leopardstown last time but he ran well for a long way and Forpadydeplasterer's win on Tuesday has certainly given the form of that race a big boost. Naiad du Misselot has been a little disappointing of late but he won the Coral Cup here last year and the return to this venue might see him run with a little more sparkle. Course and distance form can be key here so Ring The Boss is another to enter calculations, while Jonjo O'Neil has his string in great form and Kia Kaha won well last time at Fakenham. This is a tough start to the day for punters and the vote is given to Northern Alliance.
Ring The Boss (IRE) 10-11fav (11-4) Tracked leader, not fluent 11th, led approaching 2 out, left clear last, won at Warwick 2m 4f nov chs (3) hvy in Jan beating The Vicar (10-12) by 14l, 5 ran.
Northern Alliance (IRE) 5-1 (11-10) Held up in rear, headway in 5th 4 out, improved to 4th 3 out, ridden into 3rd 2 out, no extra before last, kept on same pace, 3rd of 9, 6l behind Made In Taipan (11-4) at Navan 2m nov chs Grd 2 hvy in Feb.
Tranquil Sea (IRE) 6-1 (11-10) Held up, headway to 4th 2 out, ridden and no extra before straight, weakened before last, 5th of 7, 33l behind Cooldine (11-10) at Leopardstown 2m 5f nov chs Grd 1 hvy in Feb.
Crescent Island (IRE) 2-1 (11-4) Close up, pressed winner after 2 out, no extra before last, 2nd of 4, 10l behind Oscar Bay (11-8) at Stratford 2m 4f nov chs (3) gd.
Straw Bear (USA) 17-2 (11-11) Held up, headway after 3 out, close 4th when ridden next, kept on same pace, 4th of 7, 8l behind Lough Derg (11-11) at Fontwell 2m 4f hdl Grd 2 (1) gd in Feb.
Naiad du Misselot (FR) 7-1 (11-0) Held up, chasing leaders when stumbled 2 out, stayed on from last, 4th of 6, 4 1/2l behind Will Be Done (11-4) at Haydock 2m 4f nov chs Grd 2 (1) sft in Jan.
Kia Kaha 5-4fav (11-4) Held up in rear, headway and hampered 4 out, went 2nd next, led 2 out, soon pushed along, ran on well, won at Fakenham 2m 5f nov chs (3) gs in Jan beating Valley Ride (10-12) by 9l, 6 ran.
Au Courant (IRE) 12-1 (11-0) Left chasing winner from 3rd, looked dangerous approaching 3 out, ridden 2 out, no extra and well held from last, 2nd of 4, 5l behind Herecomesthetruth (11-7) at Kempton 2m 4f nov chs Grd 2 (1) gd in Feb.
Slash And Burn (IRE) 4-1 (11-1) Jumped left at some fences, led to 6th, chased winner to 9th, stayed in touch, headway to track leaders 4 out, chased winner approaching 2 out, stayed on same pace flat, 2nd of 8, 1 1/2l behind Massini's Maguire (11-1) at Ascot 2m 5f beg c.
Exmoor Ranger (IRE) 8-11fav (11-5) Raced wide, tracked leader, led after 7th until 10th, led after 11th, in command from 4 out, comfortably, won at Exeter 2m 3f nov chs (2) sft in Dec beating Oscar Bay (11-8) by 3 1/2l, 4 ran.
Astarador (FR) 10-3 (11-4) Led, ridden after 4 out, joined next, headed 2 out, driven and not quicken flat, 2nd of 6, 2l behind Kalahari King (11-8) at Musselburgh 2m 4f nov chs (3) gd in Feb.
The Vicar (IRE) 6-1 (11-4) Led, blundered 2nd, headed 6 out, led again 2 out, driven out, won at Haydock 2m 4f nov hcp chs (2) hvy in Feb beating Sa Suffit (11-0) by 2 1/2l, 8 ran.
Chapoturgeon (FR) 7-4fav (10-9) Close up, led 6th, clear from 3 out, easily, won at Doncaster 2m nov chs (2) gs in Jan beating The Duke's Speech (11-3) by 4l, 5 ran.
Pancake (FR) 5-2 (11-0) Made virtually all, hit 7th and next, strongly pressed from 4 out, until gained upper hand before last, won at Kempton 2m 4f beg chs (4) gs in Feb beating Leading Contender (11-0) by 3 1/2l, 4 ran.
Auroras Encore (IRE) 6-4fav (11-4) In touch, ridden 4 out, driven and no extra from 2 out, 2nd of 7, 11l behind Psychomodo (11-4) at Carlisle 2m nov chs (3) hvy in Feb.
Jaamid 11-4fav (11-12) Mid-division, progress after halfway, 4th 4 out, 3rd next, ridden and no impression 2 out, kept on same pace, 3rd of 18, 18l behind Majestic Concorde (11-9) at Leopardstown 2m 1f beg chs gs in Jan.
Isn't That Lucky 4-6fav (11-0) Held up in 3rd, pushed along 4 out, outpaced next, rallied after 2 out, led and went left when left clear last, won at Stratford 2m 5f beg chs (4) gs beating Pacha D'Oudairies (11-0) by 16l, 4 ran.
Quws Law (IRE) 8-1 (11-7) In touch, tracked leaders 5th, ridden after 3 out, soon weakened and pulled up at the last in race won by Ping Pong Sivola (10-1) at Cheltenham 2m 5f nov hcp chs (2) hvy in Jan, 10 ran.
Back On The Road (IRE) 12-1 (10-9) Held up towards rear, headway to 9th 4 out, ridden into 7th entering straight, no extra before last where 8th, kept on one pace, 8th of 12, 13l behind Conem (10-5) at Leopardstown 2m 3f hcp chs 0-140 hvy in Jan.
Bohemian Lass (IRE) Evensfav (11-0) Chased leaders, 4th halfway, ridden into 3rd 3 out, no extra approaching 2 out, kept on one pace, lost 3rd run-in, 4th of 9, 27l behind Moskova (10-11) at Thurles 2m 4f mrs nov chs hvy in Jan.