Barizan, second in last year's Triumph Hurdle and winner of a Grade 1 at the Punchestown Festival subsequently, has struggled this term and looks to have little hope of reversing Cheltenham running last month with OSCAR WHISKY. This shorter trip will be more to the liking of Evan Williams' five-year-old but Nicky Henderson's fast-improving hurdler should have the speed to pick off the habitual front-runner up the straight and endorse his Cheltenham credentials. Won In The Dark regularly competes at the highest level but is usually found wanting. Sabrina Harty's charge could be the one for forecast-backers here, however, as Black Jack Blues has been below par since winning a handicap here in October and Tarkai looks out of his depth.
Barizan (IRE) 33-1 (11-12) Led, not fluent 6th, not fluent and headed next, lost place after 3 out, weakened next, 6th of 7, 29l behind Oscar Whisky (11-4) at Cheltenham 2m 4f hdl (2) gs in Jan.
Oscar Whisky (IRE) 3-1 (11-4) Held up in 5th, not fluent 6th, headway after 3 out, went 3rd 2 out, led on bit when hit last, shaken up and readily drew clear final 100 yards, won at Cheltenham 2m 4f hdl (2) gs in Jan beating Any Given Day (11-8) by 7l, 7 ran.
Won In The Dark (IRE) 40-1 (11-10) Slowly into stride and held up, pulled hard halfway, 4th approaching 2 out, soon no extra and weakened, last of 5, 14l behind Hurricane Fly (11-10) at Leopardstown 2m hdl G1 (1) hvy in Dec.
Black Jack Blues (IRE) 50-1 (11-0) Chased leaders, weakened soon after 3 out, no chance when blundered next, tailed off, 6th of 8, 35l behind Silviniaco Conti (11-4) at Ascot 2m 3f hdl G2 (1) gs in Nov.
Tarkari (IRE) 20-1 (10-7) Took keen hold, behind, headway and well in touch when fell 3 out, in a race won by Menorah (11-12) at Cheltenham 2m hcp hdl Grade 3 (1) gs in Nov, 17 ran.