Handy Andy is an obvious candidate in this opener as he stayed on stoutly to win a decent novices' handicap over 3m at Newbury in December. He's 8lb higher now, however, and is taking on more experienced chasers today. Rhum won over 3m2f at Wincanton in January and should play a part while Jurisdiction won over even further at Sedgefield and warrants a second look along with the mare Posh Bird, who stays forever, and Circus of Dreams. MONSIEUR CADOU is probably high enough in the weights now but is another with stamina in abundance and he scored over course and distance in the autumn before finishing third at Lingfield off his new mark. He gets a tentative vote as Abnaki is still chasing a first victory over fences yet gets little respite from the handicapper and Captain Americo generally finds at least one too good.
Abnaki (IRE) 5-2 (10-12) Tracked leaders, jumped slowly 2nd, lost place 5th, headway 7th, ridden 14th, outpaced by leaders before 4 out, switched right flat, ran on, closing near finish, 3rd of 6, 1 1/4l behind De La Bech (10-12) at Exeter 3m nov chs 0-125 (4) gd.
Handy Andy (IRE) 9-4fav (11-0) Chased leader, 3rd until 11th, chased leader, ridden before 4 out, led again 3 out, driven before last, stayed on well under pressure flat, won at Newbury 3m nov hcp chs 0-125 (3) sft in Dec beating Chartreux (11-10) by 2 1/4l, 8 ran.
Rhum (FR) 12-1 (11-9) Made all, jumped right and mistake 1st, jumped right next, not fluent 5th or 7th, clear last, ridden out, won at Wincanton 3m 1f hcp chs 0-120 (4) hvy in Jan beating Flying Award (11-5) by 1 3/4l, 7 ran.
Jurisdiction 16-1 (11-11) Led, briefly headed 14th, came clear after 2 out, easily, won at Sedgefield 3m 3f hcp chs 0-115 (4) gs in Feb beating Heez A Steel (10-9) by 10l, 8 ran.
You Know Yourself (IRE) 40-1 (9-7) Mid-division, under pressure 16th, blundered and unseated rider 18th, in a race won by Big Occasion (9-7) at Uttoxeter 4m 1f lstd hcp chs (1) hvy, 11 ran.
Captain Americo (IRE) 13-2 (11-7) Prominent, led 2nd, headed 8th, led again 11th, headed 13th, pushed along next, blundered 5 out, soon outpaced, rallied to go 3rd 2 out, no extra, 3rd of 10, 16l behind Do It For Dalkey (11-7) at Ayr 3m 1f hcp chs 0-130 (3) sft.
Posh Bird (IRE) 4-1 (11-3) Held up towards rear, headway 5 out to chase leaders, every chance last, one pace run-in, 5th of 7, 8l behind Dusky Bob (10-10) at Carlisle 3m 2f hcp chs 0-130 (3) hvy.
Circus of Dreams 10-1 (11-5) Held up towards rear, headway to get in behind leaders in 5th when blundered 16th (water), weakened, not recover, 5th of 10, 24l behind Goring One (10-9) at Sandown 3m hcp chs 0-125 (3) gd in Feb.
King Fontaine (IRE) 10-1 (10-11) Held up mid-division, pushed along before 18th, soon weakened, pulled up before 2 out, in a race won by Chac Du Cadran (10-7) at Catterick 3m 6f hcp chs 0-135 (3) sft in Jan, 14 ran.
Monsieur Cadou (FR) 6-1 (10-12) Held up in last trio, not fluent 5th, headway before 16th, went 2nd approaching 3 out until approaching next, stayed on same pace in 3rd and no chance with leading duo, 3rd of 9, 15l behind Emperor's Choice (11-10) at Lingfield 3m 4f hcp chs 0-130 (3) hvy in Feb.
Emperor Concerto 10-1 (11-12) Held up, ridden and behind from 12th, tailed off, 8th of 10, well behind Balinroab (11-12) at Leicester 2m 7f hcp ch 0-110 (4) sft.
Boris The Blade 10-3 (11-12) Led, not fluent 3rd, headed before 9th, ridden and in rear before 10th, soon tailed off, pulled up before 4 out, in a race won by Armedanddangerous (11-9) at Newcastle 3m hcp chs 0-105 (4) hvy in Jan, 5 ran.