There appears to be no good reason to desert CAPTAIN CHRIS although Pepe Simo is sure to have his supporters whilst Salden Licht is better than he was able to show in the Dovecote. The selection showed promise in a Kempton bumper before two hugely impressive victories at the same track over hurdles. This is a step up in class but the handicapper has him as the highest rated horse in the race and he's certainly given the impression that he'll be more than capable of holding his own. Pepe Simo has been ambitiously campaigned, taking in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton and the Imperial Cup on his most recent outing, and will appreciate the return to novice company but looks opposable. Salden Licht could bounce back with the yard in better form and there were plausible excuses for his latest run but he has something to find as do Cootehill, Hollins and Spring Jim who ran a blinder to finish sixth in the Supreme. The winner of that race wears the same colours and races for the same connections as our selection Captain Chris.
Cootehill (IRE) 66-1 (11-7) Led to 2nd, pressed leader, led again 5th, headed after 3 out, weakened after next, 14th of 18, 30l behind Menorah (11-7) at Cheltenham 2m nov hdl G1 (1) gs in Mar.
Pepe Simo (IRE) 7-2 (11-5) Mid-division, chased leaders 2 out, kept on same pace, no impression, 3rd of 23, 11l behind Qaspal (10-3) at Sandown 2m lst hcp hdl (0-150) (1) gs in Mar.
Accordingtoemandem (IRE) 10-1 (11-1) Mid-division, headway 5th, went 2nd after 3 out, edged left in behind leader before going on approaching 2 out, not fluent at hurdle, soon clear, ran on well, won at Stratford 2m mdn hdl (4) gd in Mar beating Golden Button (10-8) by 14l, 11 ran.
Captain Chris (IRE) 3-10fav (11-6) Always prominent, led approaching 2out, drew clear after last, ran on strongly, won at Kempton 2m nov hdl (4) gd in Mar beating Rollwiththepunches (11-6) by 13l, 8 ran.
Hollins 250-1 (11-7) Mid-division on inside, outpaced 3 out, weakened from next, 11th of 18, 14l behind Menorah (11-7) at Cheltenham 2m nov hdl G1 (1) gs in Mar.
Salden Licht 11-4fav (11-6) Held up towards rear, headway 4th, soon chasing leaders, driven to challenge approaching 2out, soon one pace, 3rd of 9, 16l behind Escort'men (10-7) at Kempton 2m nov hdl G2 (1) sft in Feb.
Spring Jim 80-1 (11-7) Mid-division, outpaced when hit 3 out, ridden and effort to chase leaders approaching last, kept on, 6th of 18, 13l behind Menorah (11-7) at Cheltenham 2m nov hdl G1 (1) gs in Mar.
Bolanderi (USA) 12-1 (10-7) Mid-division, headway over 6f out, weakened over 2f out, last of 13, well behind Daring Origyn (10-0) at Exeter 2m 1f mdn NH flat (5) gd in Jan '09.
Oh No Not Harry (FR) 25-1 (11-4) Took keen hold, held up in 5th, headway to dispute 3rd, after 6th, well outpaced under pressure well before 2 out, 5th of 6, 34l behind Phidippides (11-12) at Kempton 2m 5f nh nov hdl (2) gs in Feb.
Diamond Eclipse (IRE) 25-1 (10-7) Led to 4th, tracked leaders, weakened approaching 2 out, 5th of 16, 39l behind Gus Macrae (11-1) at Hereford 2m 1f NH mdn hdl (4) sft in Mar.