Cowards Close will be many people's idea of the winner of this but, though unexposed, he faces no easy task on his first start since winning at Fakenham in May. CORKAGE runs his best races here and his latest second behind Timesishard over course and distance, when Midnight Oscar was behind, suggests he's ready to strike again. Don't Be Late is running well but continues to climb the weights while Drum Valley may also be a few pounds too high now. Al Co could figure again, however, and Mister Dillon's fifth at Cheltenham was an improvement. With Nico De Boinville taking off 5lb, he must have some sort of chance.
Opening Batsman (IRE) 25-1 (11-0) Towards rear, fell 5th, in a race won by Triolo D'Alene (11-1) at Newbury 3m 2f Grade 3 hcp chs (4yo+) (1) gd in Nov, 21 ran.
Al Co (FR) 13-2 (11-12) Keen in touch towards rear, ridden 3 out, headway to chase leaders next, stayed on to go 2nd flat, no threat to winner, 2nd of 7, 7l behind Free To Dream (11-8) at Market Rasen 3m hcp hdl (2) sft in Nov.
Drum Valley 14-1 (11-3) Held up in last pair, headway approaching 2 out, weakened between last 2, 6th of 16, 15l behind Saphir Du Rheu (11-0) at Sandown 2m 6f hcp hdl (2) gs.
Sivola De Sivola (FR) 3-1 (11-5) Tracked leaders in 3rd, went 2nd from 10th, blundered 6 out, ridden before 4 out, weakened before next, 3rd of 5, 26l behind Green Flag (11-1) at Ayr 3m 1f (3) sft in Nov.
Don't Be Late (IRE) 20-1 (10-9) Held up towards rear, headway and switched left approaching 2 out, stayed on to 3rd flat, almost snatched 2nd but no chance with winner, 3rd of 17, 2 3/4l behind Vendor (10-12) at Newbury 2m 3f hcp hdl 0-150 (2) sft in Nov.
Mister Dillon 11-1 (10-10) Mid-division, headway after 3 out, 6th last, stayed on, not able to get on terms, 5th of 11, 5l behind Sunnyhillboy (10-8) at Cheltenham 3m hcp hdl (2) gd.
Cowards Close (IRE) 4-9fav (11-5) Tracked leader, led between 2 out and last, ridden and ran on, won at Fakenham 2m 7f nh nov hdl (3) gd in May beating No Buts (10-13) by 4 1/2l, 5 ran.
Corkage (IRE) 14-1 (11-11) Led, headed 5th, ridden to regain lead before 3 out, headed 3 out, mistake last, one pace, 2nd of 9, 6l behind Timesishard (11-12) at Doncaster 3m hcp hdl 0-125 (3) gd.
Western Jo (IRE) 4-1 (11-3) Tracked leaders, every chance approaching 2 out, soon ridden and weakened, pulled up before last, in a race won by Alderley Rover (10-13) at Bangor 3m hcp hdl 0-135 (3) sft in Nov, 9 ran.
Midnight Oscar (IRE) 5-1 (11-11) Held up mid-division, went 3rd before 2 out, kept on same pace, 4th of 9, 10l behind Timesishard (11-12) at Doncaster 3m hcp hdl 0-125 (3) gd.
Henryville 11-4fav (11-12) Held up in rear, steady headway to track leaders 3 out, went 2nd approaching 2 out, trying to mount a challenge when hit last, not quicken flat, 2nd of 6, 3l behind Invicta Lake (11-3) at Plumpton 2m 5f amat hcp hdl 0-120 (4) gs in Nov.