Shocks in this aren't uncommon and the race often turns into a slog. With soft ground forecast, it could pay to look for something that will stay on when others have cried enough. Paul Nicholls saddled the five-year-old Star De Mohaison to score in 2006 and relies on Unioniste from that age group this time around. He handled the step up to 3m when short-heading Hadrian's Approach at Newbury last month but this is a much stiffer course and his stamina will be thoroughly tested. Experience can be a big factor and it's a little worrying that both Boston Bob and Goulanes have only run twice over fences so far, though the pair are unbeaten and open to further improvement. Goulanes was receiving 7lb when beating Super Duty narrowly at Wetherby however. LORD WINDERMERE and Lyreen Legend were hot on the heels of Boston Bob in a Grade 1 over 2m5f at Leopardstown last month. Jim Culloty's gelding should relish this first try over 3m as he's been staying on well in his races and, at the forecast odds, he may be the value if his jumping holds up as the others appear to have plenty to find on the form book.
Boston Bob (IRE) 6-4fav (11-10) Tracked leader in 2nd, dropped to 4th and pushed along after 2 out, ridden and no impression early run-in, kept on well under pressure to lead on line, won at Leopardstown 2m 5f nov chs G1 (1) sft in Feb beating Texas Jack (11-10) by ns, 6 ran.
Goulanes (IRE) 12-5fav (11-0) In touch, soon tracked leaders in 3rd, outpaced 4 out, stayed on to lead flat, just held on, won at Wetherby 3m 1f nov chs G2 (1) sft in Feb beating Super Duty (11-7) by hd, 6 ran.
Hadrian's Approach (IRE) 10-3 (11-5) Took keen hold, tracked leading pair, pushed along and closing when blundered 2 out, recovered to chase winner run-in, switched right at elbow 110 yards out, strong run close home, bumped near line, just failed, 2nd of 5, shd behind Unioniste (11-4) at Newbury 3m nov chs (3) sft in Feb.
Houblon Des Obeaux (FR) 4-1 (11-7) Prominent, mistake 13th, led 15th, headed approaching 2 out, rallied last, kept on well, 2nd of 5, 1 3/4l behind Rocky Creek (11-7) at Ascot 3m nov chs G2 (1) sft in Feb.
Lord Windermere (IRE) 4-1 (11-10) Led until headed after mistake 3rd and almost unseated rider, tracked leaders in 3rd, headway to lead again after 2 out, strongly pressed and headed last, kept on under pressure, no extra close home and dropped to 3rd, 3rd of 6, 3/4l behind Boston Bob (11-10) at Leopardstown 2m 5f nov chs G1 (1) sft in Feb.
Lyreen Legend (IRE) 3-1 (11-10) Tracked leader until led from 3rd, strongly pressed and headed after 2 out, ridden in 3rd before last, kept on under pressure, no extra closing stages and dropped to 4th, 4th of 6, 1 1/4l behind Boston Bob (11-10) at Leopardstown 2m 5f nov chs G1 (1) sft in Feb.
Real Milan (IRE) 7-1 (11-4) Tracked leaders, bad mistake and slithered on landing 4th, soon pulled up, in a race won by Rocky Creek (11-7) at Ascot 3m nov chs G2 (1) sft in Feb, 5 ran.
Terminal (FR) 15-8 (11-3) Tracked leaders and raced wide for much, challenged and on terms from before 2 out, led before last and stayed on best to assert run-in, won at Navan 3m nov chs G2 (1) hvy in Feb beating Tofino Bay (11-8) by 6l, 4 ran.
Theatrical Star 7-2 (11-0) Made all, clear before last, stayed on strongly, unchallenged, won at Exeter 2m 3f nov chs (3) hvy in Feb beating Colour Squadron (11-0) by 5l, 8 ran.
Vintage Star (IRE) 6-4fav (11-7) Tracked leaders, went 2nd from 12th, led before 14th, headed 4 out, every chance and ridden 2 out, one pace from last, 2nd of 6, 8l behind Ruben Cotter (11-0) at Doncaster 3m 2f nov chs (4) gd in Feb.
Unioniste (FR) 4-5fav (11-4) Pressed leader, challenged and hit 7th, challenged again 10th, led narrowly 2 out, strongly pressed final 100 yards, hung left near line, all out, won at Newbury 3m nov chs (3) sft in Feb beating Hadrian's Approach (11-5) by shd, 5 ran.