The better ground is starting to encourage the reappearance of some old favourites. FLEMISH INVADER won this in 2011 off a 3lb higher mark and, though things haven't exactly gone to plan since, is perfectly capable of running well fresh and could go close at decent odds. Henry Hook is another expected to be prominent after a break and Kauto The Roc is on a favourable mark if fully wound-up. Kim Bailey runs Basoda and Midnight Haze while Iona Days and Global Flyer are others with claims in an open contest. The Black Baron won at Fakenham last month but this looks more competitive.
Basoda 16-1 (11-5) Held up behind, struggling 12th, plugged on from 4 out, never on terms, 4th of 9, 17l behind Tour Des Champs (11-10) at Ludlow 3m hcp chs 0-130 (3) sft in Dec.
Midnight Haze 33-1 (11-0) Held up in rear, pushed along approaching 8th, jumped into horse on top of fence and brought down 10th, in a race won by Rouge Et Blanc (10-0) at Exeter 2m 3f hcp chs 0-135 (3) hvy in Feb, 11 ran.
Henry Hook (IRE) 9-2 (11-3) Mid-division, headway 5th, challenged 7th, led 10th, headed 2 out, no chance with winner, stayed on same pace, 2nd of 12, 20l behind On The Bridge (11-2) at Ludlow 3m hcp chs 0-120 (4) gd in Oct.
Iona Days (IRE) 18-1 (11-0) Tracked leaders, ridden after 3 out, no impression before last, 7th of 12, 15l behind Loch Ba (11-7) at Newbury 3m hcp chs 0-130 (3) sft in Jan.
Global Flyer 20-1 (11-12) Raced wide, in touch, reminder and lost place 4th, rallied to chase leaders next, reminders again after 7th, weakened 10th, soon behind, tailed off when pulled up approaching 3 out, in a race won by Tafika (10-11) at Leicester 2m 4f hcp chs 0-120 (4) hvy in Dec, 11 ran.
The Black Baron (IRE) 9-1 (10-11) Close up, tracked leader 7th, led 4 out, ridden clear approaching last, eased flat, won at Fakenham 2m 5f hcp chs 0-125 (3) sft in Feb beating Three Chords (11-4) by 6l, 8 ran.
You're So Vain 10-1 (11-9) Tracked leaders, weakened approaching 3 out, tailed off, 8th of 12, 48l behind Lucy's Legend (11-1) at Kempton 2m hcp chs 0-120 (4) gd in Oct.
Flemish Invader (IRE) 18-1 (11-7) Not always fluent towards rear, hit 7th, hampered 8th, behind 11th, pulled up before 4 out, in a race won by On The Bridge (11-2) at Ludlow 3m hcp chs 0-120 (4) gd in Oct, 12 ran.
Kilcommon Pride (IRE) 10-1 (11-8) Led, pecked 11th, headed next, led 13th until 5 out, weakened 4 out, pulled up before 3 out, in a race won by Rebeccas Choice (11-1) at Uttoxeter 3m hcp chs 0-115 (4) hvy in Feb, 13 ran.
Kauto The Roc (FR) 5-2fav (11-10) In rear, hit 3rd and 8th, headway 12th, weakened 4 out, 4th of 6, well behind Honest John (11-5) at Huntingdon 3m nov hcp chs 0-115 (4) sft in Nov.
King Jack 15-2 (11-8) Held up mid-division, ridden and weakened before 3 out, badly hampered 2 out, soon pulled up, in a race won by Noble Legend (11-11) at Uttoxeter 2m 4f hcp chs 0-115 (4) hvy in Nov, 7 ran.
Delgany Gunner 33-1 (9-9) Chased leaders, pushed along when not fluent 12th, soon given reminder, not fluent next, lost place next, behind 17th, tailed off, 6th of 8, well behind Richard's Sundance (11-5) at Sandown 3m hcp chs 0-135 (3) sft in Feb.