These have proved very moderate over fences to date and it's only by a process of elimination that NIGHT ORBIT gets the nod. Julia Fielden's charge showed a willing attitude when just outstayed by Sheshali at Southwell in November and ran well on the Flat there at the beginning of the month. It's difficult to know what to make of Hopeful Start, a very progressive hurdler early last year but who was pulled up on his final start in a Grade 1 at Aintree and has finished tailed off in both runs over fences. Akarshan did quite well over timber but has pulled up on both starts over the bigger obstacles while Fin Vin De Leu, who makes his chasing debut has been in poor form over hurdles.
Akarshan (IRE) 7-1 (11-2) Held up in rear, weakened before 10th, soon behind, pulled up before 4 out, in a race won by Osric (11-2) at Ffos Las 2m 3f nov chs (4) sft in Dec, 7 ran.
Hopeful Start (IRE) 17-2 (10-11) In rear, not fluent 2nd, blundered badly 12th, soon struggling, tailed off, 4th of 5, well behind Glenwood Knight (11-0) at Uttoxeter 3m beg chs (4) hvy in Dec.
Night Orbit 11-2 (11-3) Led until 9th, led 15th until 4 out, not fluent and every chance 3 out, no impression towards finish, 2nd of 4, 1l behind Sheshali (11-3) at Southwell 3m beg chs (4) gd in Nov.
Snake Charmer 33-1 (10-6) In touch, led 2nd, headed 6th, lost place 3 out, weakened before next, 10th of 14, 35l behind Sparrow Hills (9-10) at Wincanton 2m 4f hcp hdl 0-135 (3) sft.
Fin Vin de Leu (GER) 11-1 (11-2) Held up mid-division, badly hampered 4th, ridden approaching 8th, weakened approaching 3 out, 6th of 12, 46l behind Bellflower Boy (11-3) at Bangor 3m hcp hdl 0-135 (3) gd in Dec.
Evella (IRE) 14-1 (11-9) Chased leaders, lost place 9th, lost touch after 11th, soon tailed off and pulled up, in a race won by Mr Big (11-4) at Warwick 3m hcp chs 0-115 (4) sft in Dec, 10 ran.