Balthazar King loves the challenge of these cross-country fences and has now won six times around here, including this contest in 2012. He was last seen beating Uncle Junior by a length over track and trip in November, though the runner-up is a couple of pounds better off today and has also won here in the past. Last year's winner Big Shu has 11lb more to carry this season but made a promising reappearance behind Love Rory at Punchestown and there shouldn't be much between the pair of today's terms. Sizing Australia, the winner in 2011, lines up again and Any Currency was a bit unlucky when beaten half-a-length by Sire Collonges over course and distance in December and should be thereabouts again. Hey Big Spender, Duke Of Lucca and Diamond Harry all have ability but Enda Bolger's runners in this are always worth a second look. As well as Love Rory, he saddles Quantitativeeasing, Quiscover Fontaine and STAR NEUVILLE. The latter looks very well treated and can be a fifth winner in 10 years for the stable.
Balthazar King (IRE) 5-4fav (11-8) Prominent, blundered 3rd, joined leader 10th, led 12th, made most after, hard pressed last, ridden and stayed on well flat, won at Cheltenham 3m 7f crs cntry chs (5yo+) (2) gd in Nov beating Uncle Junior (11-8) by 1l, 11 ran.
Uncle Junior (IRE) 14-1 (10-5) Towards rear, mistake 8th, no impression before 3 out, never a factor, 10th of 18, 33l behind Folsom Blue (10-1) at Punchestown 3m 4f Handicap Chase (Grade C) (5yo+) hvy in Feb.
Big Shu (IRE) 10-3 (12-0) Mid-division, closer at 14th, 4th at next, ridden in 3rd before last, 2nd last, kept on without reaching winner, 2nd of 16, 2 1/4l behind Love Rory (11-11) at Punchestown 3m crs cntry chs (5yo+) hvy in Feb.
Quantitativeeasing (IRE) 5-4 (11-9) Rr of mid div, 6l 5th 1/2way, mstk 6out, 5l 4th 5out, 6l 4th 3out, nvr nrr, ko one pce last, just take 3rd at line, 3rd of 7, 6l behind Burren River (10-13) at Nenagh 3m ire ptp hvy in Jan.
Love Rory (IRE) 2-1fav (11-11) Chased leaders, closer at 14th, 3rd at 15th, improved to lead 5 out, challenged after 3 out, ridden and kept on well from before last, won at Punchestown 3m crs cntry chs (5yo+) hvy in Feb beating Big Shu (12-0) by 2 1/4l, 16 ran.
Hey Big Spender (IRE) 16-1 (11-8) In rear, mistake 5th, behind next, pulled up before 7th, in a race won by Shotgun Paddy (11-7) at Warwick 3m 5f hcp chs G3 (1) sft in Jan, 15 ran.
Sire Collonges (FR) 7-1 (11-10) Led 2nd, headed 17th, led 19th, headed 11 out, outpaced 5 out, rallied approaching last, led flat, held on, won at Cheltenham 3m 7f hcp chs (2) gd in Dec beating Any Currency (10-12) by 1/2l, 13 ran.
Sizing Australia (IRE) 8-1 (11-7) Tracked leaders in 3rd, progress to lead 5th, joined approaching straight and headed after 3 out, soon ridden and no extra in 5th before last, kept on one pace, 5th of 14, 12l behind Court Jester (10-8) at Navan 2m cond hcp hdl (80-109) hvy in Feb.
Bishopsfurze (IRE) 7-2 (11-11) Chased leaders, led 5th, fell 14th, in a race won by Love Rory (11-11) at Punchestown 3m crs cntry chs (5yo+) hvy in Feb, 16 ran.
Duke Of Lucca (IRE) 6-1 (10-11) Tracked leaders, not always fluent, mistake 4 out, one pace when mistake 2 out, 6th of 9, 22l behind Monbeg Dude (11-0) at Cheltenham 3m 1f Grade 3 hcp chs (4yo+) (1) gd in Dec.
Quiscover Fontaine (FR) 12-1 (10-11) Held up, closer in 8th at 15th, progress in 5th 3 out, soon challenged, ridden in 2nd before last, no extra in 3rd last, kept on same pace, 3rd of 16, 4 1/2l behind Love Rory (11-11) at Punchestown 3m crs cntry chs (5yo+) hvy in Feb.
Diamond Harry 8-1 (11-12) Held up mid-division, headway before 15th, went 2nd before next, a close 2nd and every chance when fell 2 out, in a race won by Sun Cloud (11-0) at Catterick 3m 6f hcp chs 0-135 (3) hvy in Jan, 9 ran.
Any Currency (IRE) 20-1 (10-8) Prominent, reminder 8th, pecked next, soon ridden along, one pace and no impression after 3 out, 5th of 15, 15l behind Shotgun Paddy (11-7) at Warwick 3m 5f hcp chs G3 (1) sft in Jan.
A Stray Shot (IRE) 25-1 (11-4) Held up towards rear, progress into 5th after 3 out, ridden in 4th 2 out, under pressure in 5th before last, 4th last, kept on same pace, 4th of 16, 6l behind Love Rory (11-11) at Punchestown 3m crs cntry chs (5yo+) hvy in Feb.
Sin Palo (IRE) 33-1 (10-7) Chased leaders, 6th early, lost place 6 out, pulled up 3 out, in a race won by Rockyaboya (10-3) at Leopardstown 3m hcp chs 0-145 sft in Dec, 28 ran.
Star Neuville (FR) 25-1 (10-7) Mid-division, 7th on outer 3 out, ridden in 4th on outer 2 out, no extra in 3rd when slight mistake at last, kept on same pace, 3rd of 12, 9l behind Valmy Baie (10-5) at Fairyhouse 2m 4f hcp hdl 0-140 in Feb.