Capable as he is, Jonjo O'Neill's Exotic Dancer has finished behind KAUTO STAR on no fewer than seven occasions and that run is taken to be extended to eight here with the Paul Nicholls-trained gelding expected to follow up his recent Down Royal success and take the honours in this valuable contest. Disappointingly, very few runners are prepared to take on one of the leading chasers in the country and with Ollie Magern in the race there is bound to be plenty of pace in the contest. Don McCain has his string in good form but his runner Cloudy Lane will need to improve on what he showed at Aintree last month to take a hand here and of more interest may be Tamarinbleu. David Pipe's gelding was well held in the Melling Chase when last seen but he is better than he showed that day be it over two miles or today's trip of three and he makes more appeal than Peter Bowen's Snoopy Loopy, who is race fit but does need to step up on the form he has shown in his last couple of starts. Exotic Dancer deserves to win a decent prize but he may again have to settle for minor honours behind Kauto Star who is expected to be too bright for his rivals today.
Cloudy Lane 22-1 (10-10) Held up towards rear, not fluent 10th weakened next, 9th of 12, 23l behind Knowhere (10-5) at Aintree 2m 4f hcp chs Grd 2 (1) sft in Oct.
Exotic Dancer (FR) 8-1 (11-9) Held up and keen, headway approaching 3 out, led approaching and blundered last, headed flat, kept on, 2nd of 12, 1l behind Knowhere (10-5) at Aintree 2m 4f hcp chs Grd 2 (1) sft in Oct.
Kauto Star (FR) 2-5fav (11-10) Settled behind leaders, 3rd halfway, improved to challenge 3 out and soon led, clear before next, not extended, won at Down Royal 3m chs Grd 1 sft beating Light On The Broom (11-10) by 11l, 5 ran.
Ollie Magern 6-1 (11-10) Led, ridden when mistake 2 out, driven and headed close home, 2nd of 6, 1l behind State of Play (11-0) at Wetherby 3m 1f chs Grd 2 (1) gf.
Snoopy Loopy (IRE) 4-1 (11-6) Tracked leaders, ridden approaching 3 out, driven and one pace from 2 out, 3rd of 6, 6l behind State of Play (11-0) at Wetherby 3m 1f chs Grd 2 (1) gf.
Tamarinbleu (FR) 7-1 (11-10) Led, headed approaching 3 out, soon weakened, 3rd of 6, 36l behind Voy Por Ustedes (11-10) at Aintree 2m 4f chs Grd 1 (1) gd in Apr.