Aitmatov won this in 2007 and has remained in tremendous form ever since. He would probably have beaten last year's winner Oscar Dan Dan at Navan last time but for falling at the last and, though narrowly beaten by stablemate Donnas Palm at Tipperary earlier, that was over the minimum trip and this is his distance. Third on that latter occasion was On The Way Out, who is another to be suited by this extra half-mile and is no forlorn hope to reverse the placings. Colm Murphy's brilliant mare Voler La Vedette can always be relied on to produce the goods but this should chiefly concern SOLWHIT and Hurricane Fly, who fought out that titanic battle in the Irish Champion Hurdle. The latter just had the greater Flat speed on that occasion but with a fitness advantage and a longer trip in his favour, Solwhit can take his revenge in what should be a superb spectacle.
Aitmatov (GER) 7-4fav (11-10) Led, ridden after 2 out, 1 length advantage when fell last, in a race won by Oscar Dan Dan (11-12) at Navan 2m 4f hdl G2 (1) sft in Nov, 5 ran.
Donnas Palm (IRE) 3-1 (11-10) Led, ridden and strongly pressed from 2 out, headed early straight, 3rd and no extra after last, 3rd of 4, 4l behind Solwhit (11-10) at Punchestown 2m hdl G1 (1) in Nov.
Hurricane Fly (IRE) 3-1 (11-12) Held up in rear of mid-division, headway into 3rd after 2 out, challenged travelling well approaching last, ridden on run-in and stayed on well to lead closing stages, won at Punchestown 2m hdl G1 (1) gd in Apr beating Solwhit (11-12) by nk, 11 ran.
Jumbo Rio (IRE) 11-4 (11-12) Chased leaders in 3rd, left 2nd last, ridden and no impression leader run-in, kept on same pace, 2nd of 5, 4l behind Oscar Dan Dan (11-12) at Navan 2m 4f hdl G2 (1) sft in Nov.
Mourad (IRE) 11-2 (11-9) Chased leaders, 4th halfway, close 3rd 2 out, ridden entering straight, 2nd and challenged before last, no extra from last, kept on same pace, lost 2nd run-in, 3rd of 13, 4 1/2l behind Quevega (11-5) at Punchestown 3m hdl G1 (1) gd in Apr.
On The Way Out (IRE) 12-1 (11-7) Held up in 5th, ridden from 3 out, went moderate 3rd from 2 out, kept on one paced, 3rd of 6, 2 1/2l behind Donnas Palm (11-10) at Tipperary 2m hdl G2 (1) in Oct.
Oscar Dan Dan (IRE) 11-4 (11-12) Chased leader in 2nd, ridden after 2 out, pressed leader when left in lead last, kept on well under pressure run-in, won at Navan 2m 4f hdl G2 (1) sft in Nov beating Jumbo Rio (11-12) by 4l, 5 ran.
Powerstation (IRE) 10-1 (11-9) Always towards rear, 10th of 12, well behind Bahrain Storm (11-4) at Tipperary 2m hdl Grd 3 (1) gd in Jul.
Solwhit (FR) 11-10fav (11-10) Close up in 2nd, challenged after 2 out, led early straight, ridden clear last, kept on well, comfortably, won at Punchestown 2m hdl G1 (1) in Nov beating Voler La Vedette (11-5) by 2 1/2l, 4 ran.
Summit Meeting 2-1 (11-2) Settled behind leaders, 5th halfway, left 4th 5 out, 3rd before 4 out, ridden in 4th before 2 out, stayed on to 3rd last, no impression run-in, kept on same pace, 3rd of 6, 6l behind Gimli's Rock (11-2) at Down Royal 2m hdl G2 (1) in Nov.
Voler La Vedette (IRE) 5-2 (11-5) In touch in rear, close up when pushed along 3 out, 3rd after 2 out, 2nd and stayed on after last without threatening winner, 2nd of 4, 2 1/2l behind Solwhit (11-10) at Punchestown 2m hdl G1 (1) in Nov.