SAMBELUCKY won over hurdles at Catterick last month but has been a big disappointment over fences so far, finding little when push comes to shove. This will be his first start over the larger obstacles on soft ground, however, and that could just help him to open his account. Free Speech may be the danger as he's proving a consistent sort over fences, though he was well beaten on similar going at Plumpton last time. Carrig An Uisce seems a light of former days but Royaume Bleu wasn't beaten far at Uttoxeter in November and appeared to find 3m1f too far at Folkestone next time.
Oscar Close (IRE) 17-2 (11-11) Behind, jumped right 2nd, struggling from 11th, tailed off when pulled up before 2 out, in a race won by Quincy Des Pictons (10-9) at Bangor 2m 4f hcp chs 0-105 (4) sft in Dec, 11 ran.
Free Speech 7-4fav (11-11) Led, ridden and headed after 3 out, soon no chance with easy winner, weakened to 3rd before last, 3rd of 7, 22l behind Goring Two (9-11) at Plumpton 2m 4f hcp chs 0-95 (5) sft in Dec.
Carrig An Uisce (IRE) 25-1 (11-1) Towards rear, mistake 1st, reminders after 2nd, jumped slow 8th, hit 4 out, never dangerous, 6th of 7, well behind Pensnett Bay (10-11) at Towcester 2m 3f hcp 0-100 (5) gs in Dec.
Sambelucky (IRE) 13-2 (11-5) Held up towards rear, headway on outside 8th, went 3rd after 3 out, no impression on front pair, 3rd of 13, 16l behind Sycho Fred (10-3) at Sedgefield 2m 4f hcp chs 0-95 (5) gs in Dec.
Royaume Bleu (FR) 15-2 (10-11) Held up in rear, jumped slowly 5th, mistake 10th, headway when hit 12th, lost place approaching 3 out, weakened before next, soon went remote 4th, 4th of 10, 35l behind Just Josie (11-0) at Folkestone 3m 1f hcp chs 0-95 (5) sft in Dec.
Big Bertie (IRE) 20-1 (11-0) Slight lead when crumpled on landing and fell 2nd, in a race won by Silver Roque (11-0) at Folkestone 2m mdn chs (5) gs, 4 ran.
Feeling Peckish (USA) 25-1 (9-7) Held up in touch, under pressure 9th, hampered next, weakened before 5 out, moderate 4th, 4th of 7, well behind Dot Or Feather (11-5) at Fakenham 2m 5f Am hcp ch 0-100 (5) sft.
Rester Vrai (FR) 66-1 (10-5) Raced in last, reminders after 6th, not fluent and losing touch 9th, well behind 11th, jumped right and tailed off 5 out, soon pulled up, in a race won by Dover's Hill (11-5) at Market Rasen 3m 1f nov chs (3) gd in Apr, 4 ran.