Akasaka dropped down to a mile to gain his fourth success on the track last month but is very adaptable to distances and is favoured by the race conditions. Steps To Freedom is warming up for the Champion Hurdle and should be ready for this though the trip looks on the short side. He's only run once here and landed a handicap over 2m but he's the obvious class act in the race. RICH COAST was a smart handicapper in France last season and makes his debut for new connections. The fact that he's entered in the Winter Derby at Lingfield next month suggests he's well regarded and his new stable are very adept at getting one ready after a break so he's handed the vote. Solo Performer has done well to land nine races in his career and can never be ruled out though he has a bit to find.
Akasaka (IRE) 7-2 (10-3) Disputed early, soon chased leaders, 3rd halfway, travelled well to challenge 2f out, led 1 1/2f out, ridden and kept on well under pressure final furlong, won at Dundalk 1m hcap pol in Jan beating Shake The Bucket (9-9) by 1 1/4l, 13 ran.
Solo Performer (IRE) 7-1 (9-1) Mid-division, ridden in moderate 5th entering straight, no impression on leaders from 2f out, went 4th inside final furlong, 4th of 11, 9l behind Ansgar (9-4) at Dundalk 1m 3f hcp pol in Dec.
Steps To Freedom (IRE) 20-1 (9-11) Settled in rear, ridden entering straight and no extra, last of 9, 16l behind Royal Diamond (9-11) at Curragh 1m 6f Grp 1 (1) in Sep.
Rich Coast (10-5) 2nd of 10, nk behind Tucumano (10-8) at Saint-Cloud(FR) 1m 2f stks sft in Sep.
Ozeta (FR) 3-1 (8-13) Led early, headed after 2f, ridden over 2f out, faded, 7th of 10, 10l behind Testosterone (8-13) at Chantilly(FR) 1m 4f 3yo Grp 3 (1) sft in Jun '11.
Colla Pier (IRE) 20-1 (9-2) Slow to load, slowly into stride, some progress from before straight, no extra and kept on same pace from over 1f out, 9th of 13, 9l behind Hes Our Music (9-9) at Dundalk 1m 3f 3yo hcp 47-75 pol in Dec.