Paul Nicholls makes a determined bid to land this Grade 2 with three runners. Prospect Wells was well beaten in the Long Walk at Ascot last time but had pushed stablemate Zarkander all the way to the line in the Elite Hurdle earlier. Brampour is another regular at this level though he's been unable to cope with the top-class Oscar Whisky recently. The suspicion remains that both of the above need faster ground and on that basis DARK LOVER is preferred. He ran well enough behind My Tent Or Yours at Newbury last time and scored nicely in heavy ground at Cheltenham before that. Meister Eckhart and Bergo will need their very best to figure on their return to action and even that may not be good enough while Valmari is outclassed.
Brampour (IRE) 14-1 (11-2) Disputed 2nd to before 3rd, held up 3rd and last, struggling 3 out, soon no chance with front pair, tailed off, last of 3, well behind Oscar Whisky (11-6) at Cheltenham 2m 4f hdl G2 (1) hvy in Dec.
Bergo (GER) 7-1 (11-4) Mid-division, headway approaching 4 out, no impression after 2 out, 4th of 10, 23l behind Tataniano (11-4) at Aintree 2m nov chs G1 (1) gd in Apr '10.
Dark Lover (GER) 16-1 (10-12) Chased leaders, ridden after 2 out, stayed on run-in to take 4th final 75 yards, 4th of 21, 9l behind My Tent Or Yours (11-2) at Newbury 2m hcp hdl Grade 3 (1) sft.
Meister Eckhart (IRE) 22-1 (11-7) Prominent, went 2nd soon after 3 out, every chance next, soon ridden, no extra approaching last, 5th of 20, 10l behind Brindisi Breeze (11-7) at Cheltenham 3m nov hdl Grade 1 (1) gd in Mar.
Prospect Wells (FR) 8-1 (11-7) Held up in rear, blundered 8th, went poor 5th after 10th, soon no chance, went poor 4th in closing stages, tailed off, 4th of 7, well behind Reve De Sivola (11-7) at Ascot 3m 1f hdl G1 (1) hvy in Dec.
Valmari (IRE) 7-2 (11-3) Led until 2nd, in touch, ridden after 8th, losing place when bad mistake 9th, pulled up before 11th, in a race won by Grandioso (11-11) at Ludlow 2m 4f hcp chs 0-135 (3) sft, 8 ran.