CELESTIAL HALO looked right back to his best last year. He landed the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton in November before carrying top weight to victory in a handicap at Newbury three weeks ago. Paul Nicholls' charge should come out best once again on these favourable terms as he had today's rival Torphichen a couple of lengths behind last time and the latter is worse off at the weight here. Desert Cry finished ahead of Marsh Warbler at Musselburgh earlier this month but it's difficult to see either of that pair troubling the selection.
Celestial Halo (IRE) 12-1 (11-12) Always prominent, led after 4 out, narrowly headed 2 out, stayed challenging, rallied gamely to lead again flat, driven out (flag start), won at Newbury 2m hcp hdl (2) sft in Dec beating Torphichen (10-6) by 2 1/2l, 11 ran.
Marsh Warbler 13-2 (11-7) Led to after 1st, tracked leaders, outpaced 2 out, no impression approaching last, 7th of 11, 7l behind Palawi (10-8) at Musselburgh 2m hcp hdl (2) gd.
Desert Cry (IRE) 4-1fav (11-5) Held up behind, headway 3 out, every chance last, ridden and kept on same pace flat, 5th of 11, 4 1/2l behind Palawi (10-8) at Musselburgh 2m hcp hdl (2) gd.
Torphichen 12-1 (10-6) Held up in mid-division, headway to chase leaders, 4 out, chased winner 3 out, led narrowly 2 out, ridden before last, headed flat, stayed on same pace, 2nd of 11, 2 1/2l behind Celestial Halo (11-12) at Newbury 2m hcp hdl (2) sft in Dec.