Ballyalton looked a smart novice when getting the better of the well-touted Oscar Rock at Newcastle but that race was over 2m6f and, though he has won over this trip, he could find himself getting outpaced here. GARDE LA VICTOIRE is still to taste defeat after one bumper run and a couple of starts over hurdles. He is still a bit keen but there should be a decent pace in this and he could hardly have been more impressive at Warwick last time when beating an odds-on shot that had won its previous start. The four-year-old can beat older rivals here which include Doctor Harper, already successful twice at Exeter. Cocktails At Dawn ran well in what has turned out to be a highly informative contest at Newbury almost a year ago and is worth monitoring for future reference with Hawaii Five Nil probably the pick of the remainder.
Ballyalton (IRE) 3-1 (11-3) Took keen hold, held up behind, close up 7th, tracked leading pair before 3 out, switched outside and effort to lead narrowly next, hung left between last 2, ridden flat, held on towards finish, won at Newcastle 2m 6f nh nov hdl (2) gd in Nov beating Oscar Rock (11-3) by 1/2l, 7 ran.
Doctor Harper (IRE) 1-5fav (11-5) Made all, shaken up after 2 out, soon well in command, very easily, won at Exeter 2m 1f nh nov hdl (4) gd in Nov beating Sky Watch (10-9) by 3 1/2l, 10 ran.
Garde La Victoire (FR) 15-8 (11-5) Took keen hold tracking leaders, went 2nd 3rd, hit next, led 3 out, clear when mistake 2 out, went left last, eased towards finish, won at Warwick 2m nov hdl (4) gs in Nov beating Gone Too Far (11-5) by 11l, 18 ran.
Ballyhooley Boy (IRE) 50-1 (11-0) Mid-division, driven to chase leaders briefly after 3 out, never on terms, weakened next, 8th of 9, 35l behind Beat That (11-0) at Ascot 2m 3f NH mdn hdl (3) gs in Nov.
Cocktails At Dawn 2-1fav (10-12) Held up in mid-division, steady headway 4 out, stayed on to 3rd between last 2, no impression, weakened to 4th final 150 yards, 4th of 12, 16l behind Uxizandre (10-12) at Newbury 2m 3f NH nov hdl 4-6yo (4) sft in Dec '12.
Fond Memory (IRE) 33-1 (11-0) Held up in 4th, behind and pushed along 3 out, stayed on to chase leading pair last, ridden and no impression when lost 3rd flat, 4th of 7, 8l behind Irving (11-5) at Ascot 2m hdl (3) gs in Nov.
Ghost Of A Smile (IRE) 100-1 (10-9) Held up mid-division, weakened from 3 out, 7th of 14, 29l behind Wilde Blue Yonder (11-0) at Newbury 2m NH mdn hdl (3) gs in Nov.
Hawaii Five Nil (IRE) 6-1 (10-12) Jumped left, held up in last pair, went modest 4th well before 2 out, went violently left last, went poor 3rd close home, 3rd of 8, 43l behind Sgt Reckless (10-12) at Kempton 2m NH nov hdl 4-6yo (4) gd in Nov.
Modeligo (IRE) 200-1 (10-12) Held up towards rear, weakened from 3 out, 6th of 7, well behind Irish Cavalier (11-5) at Bangor 2m 1f nh nov hdl (4) sft in Nov.