The usual high-class entry sees Darlan set off on a journey which may well end back here next March on Champion Hurdle day. However, he will need to prove himself a hurdler of real stature here despite topweight to go down that particular route with his yard enjoying a potential embarrassment of riches in the 2m hurdling division. He may well be good enough to oblige but this is his first run of the new campaign and DOMINATION makes plenty of appeal in receipt of over a stone from the Henderson charge. Last seen when romping away with an ultra-competitive Newmarket handicap, Charles Byrnes' inmate has the look of a major improver, housing room for significant improvement over timber where he remains relatively unexposed. He receives the vote here off what may well be a lenient mark at this stage of his hurdling development. Prospect Wells only just failed to overcome stablemate Zarkandar on favourable terms in Wincanton's Elite Hurdle which still rates a strong effort against a rival likely to take very high rank this term. Harry Derham's 7lb claim could prove most valuable in such a competitive affair whilst Snap Tie can never be ruled out in these high class handicaps. The progressive Cash And Go and the consistent Bothy are also worth a second look.
Darlan 7-4fav (11-4) Held up mid-division, headway on inner from 4 out, challenged 2 out, led last, ridden and kept on strongly final 150 yards, eased near finish, won at Aintree 2m nov hdl G2 (1) gd in Apr beating Captain Conan (11-4) by 4l, 12 ran.
Snap Tie (IRE) 16-1 (11-9) Tracked leaders, mistake 5th, travelling well 2 out, led and ridden entering straight, not fluent last, now under pressure run-in, won at Punchestown 2m hcp hdl gs in Apr beating Benash (11-4) by 2l, 25 ran.
Prospect Wells (FR) 2-1fav (10-7) Set steady gallop, increased pace gradually after 2nd, ridden and headed 2 out, led again when not fluent last, soon headed, ran on, just held, 2nd of 7, nk behind Zarkandar (11-10) at Wincanton 2m Ltd hcp hdl (1) gs.
Moon Dice (IRE) 2-1fav (11-5) Waited with, went 3rd travelling best before straight, gained narrow lead before 2 out, rider soon regained an iron, steadied and slow jump last, joined & maybe marginally headed run-in, regained lead near line, won at Cork 2m 4f nov chs sft in Oct beating Page Turner (10-12) by nk, 6 ran.
Blue Bajan (IRE) 40-1 (11-12) Held up, in rear, struggling 3 out, tailed off, 18th of 23, well behind Get Me Out Of Here (10-6) at Newbury 2m hcp hdl Grade 3 (1) gs in Feb '10.
Rattan (USA) 4-9fav (11-12) Soon chased leaders and off the pace, pushed along to close from before straight, went in pursuit of leader from before 2 out, led after last, kept on close home to just hold renewed effort of 2nd, won at Listowel 2m hdl sft in Sep beating Miley Shah (11-1) by hd, 6 ran.
Cash And Go (IRE) 11-4 (11-9) Settled on inner, 6th halfway, went 3rd before 2 out, no extra early straight and dropped to 5th before last (lame and scoped badly post-race), 5th of 7, 12l behind Benefficient (11-10) at Leopardstown 2m 2f nov hdl G2 (1) gs in Feb.
Bothy 14-1 (11-12) In touch, driven to chase winner approaching 3 out, every chance last, ridden and kept on flat, held near finish, 2nd of 14, 1l behind Hi Dancer (10-5) at Wetherby 2m hcp hdl 0-135 (3) gs in Oct.
Cause Of Causes (USA) 11-8fav (11-9) Tracked clear leader in 2nd, closer after 3 out, ridden entering straight, progress to lead at last, stayed on well run-in, cosily, won at Fairyhouse 2m hdl sft beating Si C'etait Vrai (11-7) by 1/2l, 5 ran.
Domination 11-4fav (11-0) Waited with in mid-division, closer in 7th into straight, 5th before 2 out, ridden to challenge last, stayed on well run-in, just failed, 2nd of 15, ns behind Baily Green (10-9) at Killarney 2m 1f hcp hdl sft in Sep.
Constant Contact 33-1 (11-9) Held up in rear, headway from 3 out, 9th last, kept on flat, nearest finish, 5th of 22, 14l behind Dark Lover (10-7) at Cheltenham 2m hcp (3) gs in Oct.
Kazlian (FR) 4-1fav (10-5) Towards rear, pushed along before 3 out, headway 2 out, one pace and no impression, 7th of 21, 9l behind Lifestyle (11-2) at Aintree 2m cond hcp hdl (2) gd in Apr.
Olofi (FR) 13-2 (10-12) Mid-division, driven and outpaced when not much room after 2 out, soon switched inside, weakened before last, 16th of 26, 17l behind Alderwood (11-1) at Cheltenham 2m 1f hcp hdl G3 (1) gd in Mar.
Vendor (FR) 7-4fav (11-6) Held up in touch in mid-division, headway after 5th, mistake 7th, weakened appraoching 3 out, pulled up before next, in a race won by Simonside (10-0) at Aintree 2m 4f hcp hdl 0-145 (2) sft in Oct, 10 ran.
One Cool Shabra (IRE) 25-1 (11-2) Disputed early, led after 2nd, disputed again 5 out, ridden in 2nd 3 out, under pressure in 4th 2 out, 3rd and no impression leaders last, 3rd of 6, 12l behind Monksland (11-8) at Down Royal 2m hdl G2 (1) gd.
Ted Spread 6-1 (10-4) Took keen hold, held up towards rear, headway to mid-division soon after 5th, weakened 2 out, 10th of 15, 22l behind Raya Star (11-12) at Ascot 2m Listed hcp hdl (1) gs.
Hi Dancer 12-1 (10-5) In touch, pressed leader after 3rd, led 5th, made rest, hard pressed last, soon ridden, kept on flat, won at Wetherby 2m hcp hdl 0-135 (3) gs in Oct beating Bothy (11-12) by 1l, 14 ran.
Glam Gerry (IRE) 12-1 (9-9) Never a factor, pulled up before 4 out, in a race won by Lion Na Bearnai (10-5) at Fairyhouse 3m 5f Ext hcp ch gs in Apr, 29 ran.
Dark Lover (GER) 9-2fav (10-7) Mid-division, headway 4th, led after 2 out, ran on well, won at Cheltenham 2m hcp (3) gs in Oct beating Changing The Guard (10-8) by 4l, 22 ran.
Hunters Belt (IRE) 9-2 (11-5) Tracked leaders, led 2 out, clear before and hit last, eased towards finish, won at Kelso 2m hcp hdl 0-115 (4) hvy in Oct beating Stanley Bridge (10-9) by 12l, 9 ran.
Star Of Aragon (IRE) 9-1 (10-1) Mid-division, outpaced before 2 out and ridden along, headway before last, stayed on run-in, 5th of 15, 2l behind Local Hero (11-2) at Market Rasen 2m 1f Listed hcp hdl (1) gd in Sep.
Grey Soldier (IRE) 80-1 (11-4) Always behind, 9th of 11, 31l behind Vulcanite (11-11) at Fakenham 2m hcp hdl 0-135 (3) gs in Oct.
The Tiddly Tadpole 7-1 (11-7) Held up towards rear, hit 4th, steady headway soon after 4 out, stayed on same pace from 2 out, 5th of 15, 19l behind Sporting Boy (11-3) at Wetherby 2m hcp hdl 0-125 (3) gs.