Bookmakers are unlikely to take any chances but NORTHERN DUNE is the most interesting horse in this line-up and one of the least exposed. Shabenito and Tara Taylor are amongst others to consider in a race where few boast compelling claims. The step up in trip for his handicap bow looks sure to suit Northern Dune who was doing the best work in the closing stages over two miles on his third run over hurdles back in 2007. His career has been interrupted by long absences but he scored on the level in December 2008 on his first start since February of that year and followed up when next seen in April. The trainer has saddled a recent winner at this track and Northern Dune is at the right end of the handicap. Reland was behind the Curley trained Sereth here last time and faces a more realistic task now handicapping over a longer trip but is up against some proven performers in the shape of Tara Taylor, Petroupetrov and Mistress To No One. The last named ran well on debut for a new yard and will cope with the softer ground but a 9lb rise in the weights requires a career best. Lennox Gardens, Bob Mountain, Painter Man and Oshkosh are amongst others worth considering but it may also pay to consider Shabenito. He has shown precious little so far but hasn't had many opportunities and is a half-brother to the useful Il Duce who performed with credit for the yard over a number of years. The market will be revealing but it would be no surprise were Northern Dune to prove to be ahead of the handicapper.
Peppertree Lane (IRE) 11-4fav (11-12) In touch, raced keenly, not fluent 1st or 8th, weakened approaching 2 out, mistake last, 5th of 9, 31l behind Cross Kennon (11-9) at Uttoxeter 2m 4f hcp hdl 0-115 (4) hvy in Nov.
Stoop To Conquer 8-1 (10-13) In touch, led 2nd, headed 3rd, led again 4th, headed 4 out and weakened, 8th of 9, 18l behind Bazart (10-2) at Chepstow 2m hcp hdl 0-130 (3) gd in Apr.
Khumbu 7-1 (11-9) Mid-division, ridden after 7th, no chance next, tailed off when pulled up before 9th, in a race won by Aberdeen Park (10-12) at Stratford 2m 6f hcp hdl 0-115 (4) gd in Jul, 14 ran.
Painter Man (FR) 3-1fav (11-4) Tracked leaders, ridden after 7th, weakened after 3 out, 6th of 8, 45l behind Markington (11-0) at Newton Abbot 2m 6f hcp hdl 0-115 (4) gf in May.
Bob Mountain (IRE) 33-1 (10-10) In touch, raced keenly, ridden after 2 out, kept on same pace approaching last, 7th of 24, 8l behind Lord Ragnar (11-1) at Cheltenham 2m 5f hcp hdl 0-110 (3) gs in Nov.
Reland (FR) 10-1 (10-7) Led to 2nd, remained prominent, jumped right 3rd, every chance 3 out, weakened last, 4th of 10, 18l behind Sereth (10-12) at Huntingdon 2m nh nov hdl (4) gd in Nov.
Oshkosh (IRE) 22-1 (10-12) Led, ridden and headed approaching 2 out, kept on under pressure from last, no chance with winner, 2nd of 9, 9l behind Valerius (11-3) at Perth 3m nh nov hdl (4) gs in Sep '08.
Key Cutter (FR) 14-1 (11-7) Prominent, pushed along 7th, hampered after 9th, soon weakened, 6th of 9, 38l behind Cross Kennon (11-9) at Uttoxeter 2m 4f hcp hdl 0-115 (4) hvy in Nov.
Mistress To No One 7-1 (11-11) Mid-division, headway approaching 6th, chased winner before 3 out, soon challenging, ridden before last, held towards finish, 2nd of 10, 1/2l behind Canni Thinkaar (10-3) at Huntingdon 2m 5f hcp hdl 0-95 (5) gd in Nov.
Lennox Gardens 12-1 (11-12) Held up towards rear, headway approaching 6th, hung left and weakened before next, tailed off when pulled up before 2 out, in a race won by Raise You Five (10-13) at Towcester 2m 5f hcp hdl 0-105 (4) sft in Nov, 17 ran.
Gunnadoit (USA) 16-1 (10-9) Chased leaders, ridden when jumped slowly 4th, weakened next, not fluent 6th, tailed off when pulled up before 2 out, in a race won by Scots Dragoon (10-13) at Sandown 2m 4f hcp hdl 0-110 (3) gd in Nov, 11 ran.
Petroupetrov (FR) 9-1 (10-4) Mid-division, headway after 3 out, chased leading pair after2 out, no impression, 3rd of 11, 10l behind Scots Dragoon (10-13) at Sandown 2m 4f hcp hdl 0-110 (3) gd in Nov.
Tara Taylor 6-4fav (11-12) Chased leaders, pushed along after 4 out, weakened under pressure after next, soon eased, tailed off, 7th of 9, 36l behind Callerlilly (11-12) at Exeter 2m 5f nov hcp hdl 0-105 (4) sft in Nov.
Danse Macabre (IRE) 14-1 (11-4) Mid-division, headway after 6th, weakened 3 out, 5th of 14, 29l behind Festival Dreams (9-11) at Uttoxeter 2m 4f hcp hdl 0-105 (4) gd in May.
Northern Dune (IRE) 33-1 (10-12) Mid-division, lost place 7th, stayed on approaching last, took 3rd near post, 3rd of 9, 7l behind Ardesia (10-5) at Uttoxeter 2m 3yo nov hdl (4) gd in Oct '07.
Shabenito (IRE) 33-1 (10-13) Mid-division, ridden from 3rd, soon held, 6th of 11, well behind Marchand D'argent (10-13) at Chepstow 2m nh nov hdl (4) gd in Apr.
Barlin Bay 250-1 (10-2) In rear, struggling after 4 out, 6th of 8, 45l behind Good Old Thyme (10-12) at Leicester 2m 4f nh nov hdl (4) gd in Nov.