Knockara Beau and Ashkazar have both transferred hurdling ability to fences, but each may struggle to concede weight to some interesting chasing debutants. The pick of the bunch is AIGLE D'OR who can get his career back on track. Nicky Henderson's son of Halling made an immediate impression over hurdles in 2008 with wins at Lingfield and also here at Prestbury Park. He was made the favourite for the Ballymore Novices' race at the festival but flopped badly and hasn't won since. He was put away after being pulled up at Aintree in April and his trainer was never able to get to the bottom of any problems that may have been bothering him. He is reported to have schooled well however and first-time up may be the best time to catch him. Ashkazar was the best of these over hurdles and was impressive at Stratford on debut. He jumped well but only beat trees and this is a much tougher examination this afternoon. Knockara Beau has accomplished more in two chase wins in the north but this strong stayer has a lot of weight to shoulder, so a bigger player may be Little Josh who has the scope to make up into a decent novice chaser. He was held behind a smart sort in Door Boy last month but his trainer loves to win here and better is expected. Minella Theatre is a strong stayer and the worry is that unless his jumping is superb, that he might find himself with too much ground to make up, whilst Weird Al had a few niggling problems after his hurdles win at Warwick a year ago. His trainer thinks a lot of him and this son of Accordion comes from a very good staying family. Overclear completes the line-up and is one of the more exposed runners in the race. He didn't beat much last time out at Stratford and will face different conditions today however he may have just improved for another year on his back. A fascinating clash, where Aigle D'Or can resume winning ways.
Knockara Beau (IRE) 5-2 (10-8) Tracked leader, led approaching 7th, jumped left 9th, soon challenged, kept on under pressure, won at Carlisle 2m 4f chs (2) sft beating Killyglen (11-10) by 7l, 7 ran.
Ashkazar (FR) 1-4fav (11-3) Tracked leader, challenged 7th, led next, easily (no time taken), won at Stratford 2m 4f beg chs (4) gd in Oct beating Oscar Royal (11-3) by 10l, 3 ran.
Overclear 9-2 (11-9) Led, headed approaching 4th, led again 8th, drew clear after last, won at Stratford 2m 1f hcp chs 0-125 (3) gf in Oct beating Vinmix De Bessy (11-5) by 27l, 6 ran.
Aigle D'or 13-2 (11-7) Held up, effort 4 out, soon weakened, pulled up before 3 out, in a race won by Time For Rupert (10-10) at Aintree 3m Listed hcp hdl (1) gd in Apr, 21 ran.
Little Josh (IRE) 7-2 (11-2) Led, joined 4 out, driven and headed between last 2, ridden and kept on same pace flat, 2nd of 5, 4l behind Door Boy (11-2) at Aintree 2m 4f noc chs (3) gd in Oct.
Minella Theatre (IRE) 10-3 (11-6) In touch, hit 1st, chased winner approaching last, stayed on flat, 2nd of 13, 1 1/2l behind Double Hit (10-7) at Bangor 3m nh nov hdl (4) gd in Apr.
Weird Al (IRE) 16-1 (10-12) Held up towards rear, headway approaching 7th, led before 2 out, stayed on well flat, won at Warwick 2m 5f nh nov hdl (4) sft in Nov '08 beating Tisfreetdream (11-5) by 4l, 18 ran.