If the weather forecast is correct, the rain will have already have got into the ground by the time the tapes go up for this contest and that can only help AT FISHERS CROSS. He's probably surprised even trainer Rebecca Curtis with the progress he's made this season but his form is very solid on soft going and, after beating today's rival Inish Island over 3m here in December, he outstayed Wednesday's impressive Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle winner The New One over 2m5f at the track in January. He can get the better of Inish Island's stablemate Ballycasey, successful at Clonmel and Thurles this winter, and the mare Utopie Des Bordes. African Gold is a tough novice and should give another good account while O'faolains Boy, another Rebecca Curtis runner, is improving fast and could sneak into a place. Cloudy Copper also warrants a mention, as does Our Vinnie, but this looks too tough for Aaim To Prosper as he was well handicapped when getting off the mark at Doncaster a couple of weeks ago.
Aaim To Prosper (IRE) 13-8fav (10-8) Chased leaders, went 2nd before 3 out, led 3 out, joined and strongly pressed last, narrowly headed flat, rallied gamely to lead again close home, won at Doncaster 3m hcp hdl 0-145 (2) gd beating Cockney Trucker (11-0) by nk, 11 ran.
African Gold (IRE) 13-8 (11-12) Tracked leaders, led before 3 out, mistake last, stayed on strongly, won at Doncaster 2m 3f NH nov hdl (4-7yo) (4) sft in Feb beating Close Touch (11-12) by 4l, 13 ran.
At Fishers Cross (IRE) 13-2 (11-12) Disputed 2nd, effort towards stands side rail before last, ridden and switched left flat, rallied to lead narrowly towards finish, won at Cheltenham 2m 4f nov hdl G2 (1) hvy in Jan beating The New One (11-12) by nk, 5 ran.
Ballybough Pat (IRE) 5-1 (11-7) Led at steady pace, gradually wound up tempo from 4th, ridden and headed before 2 out, soon dropped to 3rd and mistake 2 out, soon no chance with leading duo, mistake last, 3rd of 6, 13l behind Taquin Du Seuil (11-7) at Newbury 2m 5f nov hdl Grade 1 (1) hvy in Dec.
Ballycasey (IRE) 4-6fav (11-5) Prominent and disputed lead, led entering straight and travelling best approaching last, kept on well run-in, easily, won at Thurles 2m 6f nov hdl hvy in Jan beating Milborough (11-2) by 3l, 5 ran.
Bucking The Trend 9-1 (11-7) Tracked leaders, pushed along over 3f out, ridden over 2f out, weakened after last, 7th of 11, 14l behind Hada Men (11-12) at Doncaster 3m hcp hdl 0-130 (3) sft in Feb.
Cloudy Copper (IRE) 5-2fav (11-8) Held up in rear but in touch, good headway approaching 4 out, led soon after 3 out, pushed 3 lengths clear 2 out, drew further clear soon after, stayed on strongly, eased close home, won at Kempton 3m nh nov hdl (3) sft in Jan beating Hold On Julio (11-2) by 2 3/4l, 8 ran.
Inish Island (IRE) 11-10fav (11-2) Held up in last, went 5th travelling well 3 out, improved to dispute lead from 2 out, led last, pushed out and stayed on well run-in, won at Clonmel 2m 6f nov hdl Grd 3 (1) hvy in Feb beating Venture Capital (11-2) by 2l, 7 ran.
I Shot The Sheriff (IRE) 11-2 (11-8) Held up behind, headway from 5th, went 2nd after 3 out, kept on and no impression, 2nd of 6, 5l behind Broadway Buffalo (11-8) at Warwick 2m 3f NH nov hdl (4-7yo) (4) sft in Feb.
Le Bec (FR) 8-1 (11-4) With leader, led before 2 out, ridden and headed before last, no extra run-in, 2nd of 5, 6l behind Taquin Du Seuil (11-0) at Sandown 2m 4f nov hdl G2 (1) hvy in Dec.
O'Faolains Boy (IRE) 2-1fav (10-11) Tracked leaders on outside, not fluent 5th, went 2nd before 7th, led 9th, clear 2 out, easily, won at Bangor 3m nov hdl (3) hvy in Feb beating Ballytober (11-8) by 13l, 9 ran.
Our Vinnie (IRE) 9-2 (11-8) Chased leader in 2nd, ridden and no extra entering straight, kept on one pace in 3rd from before last, 3rd of 8, 22l behind Pont Alexandre (11-7) at Leopardstown 2m 4f nov hdl Grade 2 (1) in Jan.
Return Spring (IRE) 6-4fav (11-4) Raced wide on back straight on both circuits, held up in last pair, headway to chase leaders 8th, reminder next, ridden and stayed on same pace in 3rd from 3 out, dropped to modest 4th after next, 4th of 6, 34l behind Highland Retreat (10-11) at Taunton 3m nov hdl (3) hvy in Feb.
Superior Quality (IRE) 10-1 (11-4) Held up in touch in last pair, headway approaching 3 out, led next, went right and not fluent last, driven flat, edged right towards finish, held on, won at Musselburgh 3m nov hdl (3) gs in Feb beating Lord Wishes (11-4) by 1/2l, 6 ran.
Virginia Ash (IRE) 11-4fav (11-3) In touch, headway under after 7th, ridden to chase leader when blundered 3 out, led narrowly last, kept on flat, just held on, won at Chepstow 3m nov hcp hdl 0-120 (4) gs in Feb beating Cheat The Cheater (11-4) by nk, 12 ran.
Utopie Des Bordes (FR) 11-10fav (11-2) Tracked leader until after 1st, let front pair go clear before next, closed approaching 2 out, led soon after hurdle, stayed on, ridden out, won at Sandown 2m 4f mares listed nov hdl (1) hvy in Feb beating She Ranks Me (11-7) by 1 3/4l, 6 ran.