A first-class turnout for jumping's first big race of the new season with the winners of the last two of these, China Rock and SIZING EUROPE, both entered. The former holds a verdict over Henry De Bromhead's star though that was over 2m7f and today's trip greatly favours his brilliant rival. Although losing his Champion Chase crown to Finian's Rainbow at Cheltenham, he bounced back to beat Realt Dubh and Big Zeb in the Punchestown equivalent when China Rock trailed in 24l behind. Another crack at the Tingle Creek, which he won last year, will no doubt be on the agenda and this looks the right stepping stone. First Lieutenant, the 2011 Neptune Investment winner at Cheltenham, hasn't quite fulfilled expectations over fences though his close second to Bobs Worth in this year's RSA Chase was a cracking effort and he's still young enough to go to the top. Joncol hasn't been seen since running poorly in the Lexus Chase in December but he's another high-class chaser at his best.
China Rock (IRE) 20-1 (11-10) Chased leaders, 3rd from before 6 out, closed travelling well from before 2 out, challenged approaching last, soon led, stayed on well to draw clear closing stages, won at Punchestown 3m 1f chs G1 (1) hvy in Apr beating Follow The Plan (11-10) by 5l, 8 ran.
Sizing Europe (IRE) 8-13fav (11-12) Always prominent, disputed lead from 3rd, led from 4 out, ridden clear entering straight, wandered around slightly approaching last, stayed on well under pressure run-in, won at Punchestown 2m chs G1 (1) gs in Apr beating Realt Dubh (11-12) by 2 1/4l, 6 ran.
First Lieutenant (IRE) 9-4fav (11-10) Tracked leaders, 5th halfway, driven along in 6th approaching 2 out, went 4th before last, kept on one pace run-in without troubling first 2, 3rd of 7, 8l behind Lucky William (11-10) at Punchestown 2m nov chs G1 hvy in Apr.
Roi Du Mee (FR) 50-1 (11-4) Held up towards rear, moderate 10th 6 out, ridden and no impression before 3 out, weakened and tailed off, 8th of 29, well behind Lion Na Bearnai (10-5) at Fairyhouse 3m 5f Ext hcp ch gs in Apr.
Forpadydeplasterer (IRE) 12-1 (11-10) Held up towards rear, mistake 5th, headway before 4 out, hit 3 out, one pace and no impression, 4th of 8, 22l behind Finian's Rainbow (11-10) at Aintree 2m 4f chs G1 (1) gd in Apr.
I Hear A Symphony (IRE) 12-1 (11-12) Tracked leaders, 3rd 3 out, ridden to dispute lead briefly before next, no impression on winner after 2 out, kept on same pace, 2nd of 12, 9l behind Banellie (10-3) at Downpatrick 2m 2f hcp hdl 8Evens16 gf in Aug.
Joncol (IRE) 11-2 (11-10) Rear of mid-division, blundered 5 out, in rear when mistake next, no extra, 7th of 9, 49l behind Synchronised (11-10) at Leopardstown 3m chs G1 (1) gd in Dec.
Shabra Charity (IRE) 10-1 (10-6) Held up in rear, headway into 4th 3 out, ridden before 2 out, no impression and kept on one pace, 4th of 6, 28l behind Our Victoria (10-2) at Navan 2m 4f chs sft in Sep.