Marias Rock is capable of running well fresh while Delays Expected ran well after a lay-off when chasing home Cross The Flags at Towcester last month. The latter's stablemate, SPOT THE BALL, looks to be the one to beat in this finale however. He took a while to warm to his task on his debut over fences at Towcester but will have learned from that and should have no trouble confirming that form with third Papradon, who is more exposed. Cardigan Island may not have beaten much at Southwell and is 9lb higher here but Taunton fourth Freeze Up should be capable of better and Absolute Shambles has already won twice over fences and isn't badly handicapped on his best form.
Cardigan Island (IRE) 15-2 (11-3) Tracked leaders, joined leaders 11th, went 2nd 4 out, challenged next, led 2 out, ridden clear before last, stayed on well, won at Southwell 3m hcp chs 0-95 (5) gd in Nov beating Gerrard (11-1) by 13l, 6 ran.
Delays Expected (IRE) 13-2 (10-10) Led until 6th, led approching 8th, ridden after 3 out, headed before last, stayed on same pace, 2nd of 9, 6l behind Cross The Flags (10-10) at Towcester 2m 5f nh nov hdl (4) gd in Nov.
Freeze Up (IRE) 10-1 (11-12) With leader and keen, led after 3rd, headed 9th, remained close up, weakened before 4 out, 4th of 8, 42l behind Mr Chow (11-5) at Taunton 2m 7f hcp 0-100 (5) gd in Nov.
Blue Lovell (FR) 40-1 (10-4) Took keen hold in rear, ridden after 5th, never dangerous, 7th of 13, 42l behind Lough Derg Way (11-0) at Worcester 2m 4f mdn hdl (4) gd in Sep.
Papradon 11-2 (11-4) Led, headed before 3 out, ridden approaching next, kept on same pace, no impression with leading pair approaching last, weakened flat, 3rd of 7, 21l behind Spot The Ball (10-7) at Towcester 2m 6f cnd hcp chs (0-95) (5) gd in Nov.
Spot The Ball (IRE) 7-4fav (10-7) Held up in touch on outside, headway 3 out, soon chased leading pair, driven approaching next, chased leader and hung right between last 2, ridden last, rallied flat, led final stride, won at Towcester 2m 6f cnd hcp chs (0-95) (5) gd in Nov beating Safe Investment (11-9) by nk, 7 ran.
Marias Rock 11-4fav (11-4) Raced wide, never travelled in rear, ridden after 7th, tailed off 13th, pulled up before 3 out, in a race won by Ilewin Tom (10-10) at Chepstow 3m hcp chs 0-95 (5) gd in Apr, 15 ran.
Just Josie 150-1 (10-9) Chased leaders to 6th, soon behind, 8th of 17, well behind Chablais (11-2) at Kempton 2m 5f nh nov hdl (3) gs in Jan.
Royaume Bleu (FR) 8-1 (10-2) Held up in touch in rear, took keen hold, hampered 2nd and 4th, hit next, headway into 3rd after 11th, closed last, stayed on well, 3rd of 8, 3/4l behind Dont Tell Sailor (11-11) at Uttoxeter 2m 4f hcp 0-100 (5) gs in Nov.
Absolute Shambles 7-2 (10-7) In rear, not fluent 1st, stumbled next, bad mistake 3rd, ridden from 5th, rallied approaching 12th, challenegd 14th until after 3 out, 3rd and beaten 2 out, 3rd of 5, 9l behind Run To Fly (10-8) at Folkestone 3m 1f hcp chs 0-95 (5) gf in Nov.
Tavalu (USA) 4-1 (11-8) Tracked winner until ridden after 9th, driven not keen and no chance after, tailed off, last of 3, 31l behind Curragh Dancer (11-12) at Fontwell 2m 4f cnd hcp chs (0-95) (5) gs in Nov.