Close attention will be paid to the Seven Barrows runners, Chapoturgeon would merit respect if turned out again but Nicholls has a strong hand anyway with Poquelin and Pasco at his disposal as well as former winner Andreas who's joined in the line-up by last year's victor Tiger Cry but CLEW BAY COVE is the one that we want to be with. My Petra was second to Tiger Cry from a 16lb lower mark last year so has a stiff enough task even allowing for the improvement that she's made during the past twelve months and French Opera may turn out to be the yard's best hope but this would be some ask to open his account over fences in this contest. Poquelin didn't run his race at Ascot but achieved a remarkable success over course and distance on his penultimate start and may have enough in the locker to defy a stiff enough looking mark. Chapoturgeon would look thrown in if able to take his chance but there has to be some doubt about that and the likeable Pasco is an able substitute having posted a good round of jumping at Huntingdon but he faces a much sterner test of his credentials. Lorient Express has shown remarkable improvement this term given his age and injury problems so can't be left out and nor can Calatagan who was third last year whilst Oh Crick is interesting at the foot of the weights as this could bring out the best in him. Clew Bay Clove may lack the sexy profile of the unexposed novices but we know that his jumping will take the pressure and that he's well enough handicapped to be competitive. He was well held by I'msingingtheblues and Doctor David at Doncaster but he was outpaced there before staying on and he should be doing just that up the hill in the closing stages. He has looked back to his best this season, this is his optimum trip and Clew Bay Cove can prove it by landing the Festival finale.
Andreas (FR) 20-1 (11-12) Held up, headway 5 out, weakened after 4 out, 7th of 10, 24l behind I'msingingtheblues (11-0) at Doncaster 2m hcp chs (2) gs in Jan.
My Petra 9-2jt-fav (11-4) Held up, headway 13th, in touch when fell 4 out in race won by Stan (10-11) at Cheltenham 2m 5f hcp chs Grd 3 (1) gs in Jan, 14 ran.
Perce Rock 2-5fav (11-10) Tracked leader in 2nd, ridden entering straight, stayed on to lead approaching last, kept on well, won at Punchestown 2m 4f hdl sft in Jan beating Freds Benefit (11-10) by 4l, 9 ran.
I'm So Lucky 9-2co-fav (10-10) Chased leaders, led 6th, headed 4 out, weakened 2 out, 5th of 10, 10l behind I'msingingtheblues (11-0) at Doncaster 2m hcp chs (2) gs in Jan.
Poquelin (FR) 7-4fav (11-5) Held up, jumped left from 6th and blundered, ridden 3 out, blundered 2 out, very tired last, 3rd of 5, 17l behind Cheating Chance (11-6) at Ascot 2m 1f nov chs (3) gd in Nov.
Tiger Cry (IRE) 33-1 (10-2) Towards rear for most, never a factor, 14th of 29, 18l behind Penny's Bill (9-7) at Leopardstown 2m hcp hdl 0-145 gs in Jan.
Central House 9-2 (11-3) Prominent, 2nd when slightly slow 4 out, ridden and soon no impression, 4th of 6, 20l behind Glenfinn Captain (11-8) at Gowran Park 2m 4f chs Grd 2 hvy in Feb.
Pasco (SWI) 4-11fav (11-4) Tracked leader, led after 3 out, soon in command, easily, won at Huntingdon 2m nov chs (3) gs in Feb beating Idarah (11-4) by 6l, 6 ran.
Clew Bay Cove (IRE) 8-1 (10-6) Held up, headway 5 out, kept on from 3 out, 3rd of 10, 9l behind I'msingingtheblues (11-0) at Doncaster 2m hcp chs (2) gs in Jan.
Moon Over Miami (GER) 15-2 (11-7) Chased leaders in 3rd, ridden after 4 out, soon weakened, 5th of 7, 30l behind Tartak (11-7) at Kempton 2m 4f Grad Ch (2) gs in Feb.
French Opera 10-3 (10-12) Led to 3rd, chased leaders, mistake 10th, went 3rd 4 out, chased winner 2 out, ridden and no impression, 2nd of 8, 4l behind Planet of Sound (11-4) at Newbury 2m 2f nov chs (3) sft in Jan.
Psychomodo 7-4 (11-4) Made most, jumped well, drew clear from 2 out, won at Carlisle 2m nov chs (3) hvy in Feb beating Auroras Encore (11-4) by 11l, 7 ran.
Calatagan (IRE) 22-1 (10-10) Held up towards rear, headway 4 out, challenged last, every chance flat, no extra towards finish, 2nd of 14, 1/2l behind Arctic Wings (10-2) at Doncaster 2m 3f hcp hdl (2) gs in Jan.
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.
Lorient Express (FR) 11-4 (10-10) Made all, clear 2 out unchallenged, won at Sandown 2m hcp chs 0-145 (2) gs in Jan beating Nikola (10-11) by 7l, 8 ran.
Tramantano 10-3 (11-9) Held up, headway 6th, ridden and weakened 3 out, 5th of 7, 30l behind Bob Bob Bobbin (10-6) at Chepstow 2m hcp chs 0-145 (2) sft in Feb.
Jigsaw Dancer (IRE) 13-2 (11-4) In touch, mistake 3rd, ridden next, weakened 5 out, behind when pulled up 3 out in race won by Or Bleu (11-4) at Chepstow 2m nov chs (3) hvy in Feb, 5 ran.
Valain (IRE) 11-2 (11-3) Towards rear, ridden and weakened before straight, behind when pulled up 2 out in race won by Kalderon (11-1) at Roscommon 2m nov chs Grd 3 gs in Sept, 7 ran.
Oh Crick (FR) 7-2 (11-4) Held up, headway approaching 10th, tracked winner 3 out, close up last, no extra, 2nd of 5, 2l behind Soixante (10-12) at Hereford 2m 3f nov chs (3) sft in Feb.
Palarshan (FR) 4-1 (11-4) Held up, lost place 3rd, headway 7th, blundered 4 out, stayed on under pressure to take 3rd line, 3rd of 7, 22l behind Bob Bob Bobbin (10-6) at Chepstow 2m hcp chs 0-145 (2) sft in Feb.
Beggars Cap (IRE) 8-1 (10-8) In rear, ridden and weakened 4 out, 7th of 9, 21l behind Leslingtaylor (11-2) at Doncaster 2m hcp chs 0-145 (2) gf in Feb.