Sir Des Champs went some way towards redeeming his reputation when beating three rivals in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown last month but his overall form this season is some way below that of the home team. Silviniaco Conti has improved over the last 12 months and beat a possibly under-cooked LONG RUN and last year's Gold Cup second The Giant Bolster at Haydock in the autumn. His victory in the Denman Chase at Newbury last month, when The Giant Bolster was again behind, should have put him spot-on for this but he probably wouldn't relish a slog through the mud over this longer trip and his lack of experience over these fences is a big worry. We think Nicky Henderson holds all the aces in the meeting's blue riband contest and are going to take the Waley-Cohen's 2011 winner to regain his crown. Though he can sometimes let himself down with his jumping, the eight-year-old simply oozes class and showed he could also battle when wearing down Captain Chris to win the King George in the Kempton mud on Boxing Day. The smaller field this year is probably in his favour as he should have more time to measure his fences. Bobs Worth is the obvious danger and shouldn't be underestimated. Winner of the RSA Chase last season and successful in the Albert Bartlett 12 months earlier, he's been well backed for a Festival hat-trick and was hugely impressive when beating subsequent Grade 1 winner Tidal Bay in the Hennessy at Newbury in November. Cape Tribulation won over hurdles here a year ago and has got his act together lately over fences but needs to improve again on his win in the Argento Chase here in January to figure.
Bobs Worth (IRE) 4-1fav (11-6) Held up mid-division, headway 5 out, went 2nd next, challenged 2 out, led before last, ridden and stayed on well flat, won at Newbury 3m 2f Grade 3 hcp chs (4yo+) (1) gs in Dec beating Tidal Bay (11-12) by 3 1/2l, 19 ran.
Bog Warrior (IRE) 8-11fav (11-6) Made all, asserted after 2 out and jumped left last, ridden and kept on well run-in, won at Gowran Park 3m hdl G2 (1) hvy in Jan beating Zaidpour (11-10) by 3 1/2l, 4 ran.
Cape Tribulation 7-1 (11-6) Held up mid-division on inside, went 3rd before 15th, poised to challenge 2 out, soon outpaced, switched inside approaching last, ridden flat, stayed on well under pressure to lead towards finish, won at Cheltenham 3m 1f chs Grd 2 (1) hvy in Jan beating Imperial Commander (11-0) by 1/2l, 10 ran.
Captain Chris (IRE) 11-4 (11-7) Tracked leader, ridden to challenge after 3 out, every chance when blundered badly next, no chance after, held on for 2nd, 2nd of 6, 6l behind Cue Card (11-7) at Ascot 2m 5f chs G1 (1) sft in Feb.
Long Run (FR) 15-8fav (11-10) Tracked leading pair, joined leader 10th, led next, blundered and headed 12th, ridden to lead again after 3 out, hard pressed after next, headed when not fluent last, rallied to regain lead final strides, won at Kempton 3m Grade 1 chs (4yo+) (1) hvy in Dec beating Captain Chris (11-10) by nk, 9 ran.
Monbeg Dude (IRE) 8-1 (10-12) Towards rear, outpaced before 15th, plugged on from 4 out, never dangerous, 3rd of 14, 19l behind Well Refreshed (10-0) at Haydock 3m 4f hcp chs G3 (1) hvy in Feb.
Silviniaco Conti (FR) 8-11fav (11-10) Tracked leading trio, went 3rd after 8th, disputing close 2nd after 13th, challenged 4 out, led 3 out, ridden and in command before last, driven out, won at Newbury 3m chs Grd 2 (1) sft in Feb beating The Giant Bolster (11-6) by 7l, 8 ran.
Sir Des Champs (FR) 11-8 (11-10) Tracked leader in 2nd, headway to lead 3 out, ridden entering straight and steadied last, kept on well under pressure run-in, extending advantage at finish, won at Leopardstown 3m Grade 1 chs (1) sft in Feb beating Flemenstar (11-10) by 1 3/4l, 4 ran.
Sunnyhillboy (IRE) 28-1 (11-7) Held up towards rear, some headway on outside 4th, lost place when mistake next, well behind before 8th, soon pulled up, in a race won by Ely Brown (11-0) at Warwick 3m 1f hcp hdl (2) sft in Jan, 18 ran.
The Giant Bolster 6-1 (11-6) Led until 2nd, chased leader, not fluent 7th, pressing leader when blundered 4 out, challenged next, chased winner after, held when switched left before last, stayed on same pace run-in, 2nd of 8, 7l behind Silviniaco Conti (11-10) at Newbury 3m chs Grd 2 (1) sft in Feb.
Wayward Prince 18-1 (11-10) Chased leaders to 8th, soon behind, lost touch and pulled up before 4 out, in a race won by Cape Tribulation (11-6) at Cheltenham 3m 1f chs Grd 2 (1) hvy in Jan, 10 ran.