CLERK'S CHOICE was beaten in an all-weather bumper last time, but had been taking on much higher rated hurdlers than these before that including Binocular in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton. Oliver Sherwood's charge is taken to make the most of his easiest chance for some time. Confidence in the The Knoxs is tempered with the Nicholls yard struggling for winners and Bally Legend is preferred as he's been running consistently well in handicaps, though Topolski and Third Intention both have the form to go close if back to their best and look bigger dangers.
Battle Group 33-1 (11-10) Towards rear, headway after 3 out, outpaced next, soon beaten, 10th of 14, 12l behind Module (10-11) at Cheltenham 2m 1f hcp hdl (2) gs in Jan.
Clerk's Choice (IRE) 13-2 (11-0) Held up in rear, switched right over 2f out, headway over 1f out, kept on, 4th of 16, 2 1/4l behind Secret Tune (11-0) at Kempton 2m n h flat (6) std.
Topolski (IRE) 40-1 (11-7) Behind, blundered 2nd, struggling 4th, lost touch 4 out, soon pulled up, in a race won by Brampour (11-4) at Cheltenham 2m hcp hdl Grade 3 (1) gs in Nov, 23 ran.
Third Intention (IRE) 10-1 (10-6) Held up towards rear, some headway 2 out, soon no impression, 10th of 20, 14l behind Zarkandar (11-1) at Newbury 2m hcp hdl G3 (1) gs.
Afsoun (FR) 14-1 (11-1) Made most 8f, ridden and lost place 5f out, soon weakened, 9th of 14, 33l behind Abergavenny (11-4) at Southwell 2m n h flat (6) std.
Bally Legend 8-1 (11-9) Tracked leaders, led 3 out, headed next, kept on same pace, no impression approaching last, 4th of 12, 15l behind Ranjaan (10-5) at Taunton 2m 1f hcp hdl 0-145 (2) gs in Jan.
Duc De Regniere (FR) 40-1 (11-4) Mid-division, lost place 8th, behind when pulled up 11th, in a race won by The Minack (11-1) at Ascot 3m listed hcp chs (1) sft in Dec, 12 ran.
The Knoxs (IRE) 8-1 (10-3) Chased leader, led approaching 13th until next, chased leader, blundered 4 out, challenged and every chance 3 out, ridden and lost 2nd before next, weakened and poor 6th when mistake last, tailed off, 7th of 10, 49l behind Hold On Julio (10-0) at Sandown 3m hcp chs (2) gs in Jan.