David Pipe remains convinced that Grands Crus is a top-class chaser but last season's King George third may be using this as a prep race ahead of bigger targets later in the winter. Michael Hourigan hasn't sent The Crafty Butcher over for the good of his health and, after victories at Listowel and Gowran, he'll be fancied to complete the hat-trick but SEVENTH SIGN didn't do a lot wrong in his first season over hurdles and this is probably his best trip. The four-year-old can make a successful reappearance as Pateese will almost certainly be back over fences shortly, though God's Own looks a danger as he was still in touch and travelling well when hampered and unseating his rider at Chepstow. Like Minded may need this after a lay-off.
Grands Crus (FR) 8-1 (11-7) Held up behind, headway before 9th, went 5th before 3 out, weakened before last, 7th of 13, 27l behind Solwhit (11-7) at Aintree 3m hdl G1 (1) gs in Apr.
The Crafty Butcher (IRE) 7-2 (11-2) Waited with, soon in mid-division, 8th 4 out, chased leaders from next, ridden in 4th before straight, 3rd 2 out, 2nd and left with every chance from last, stayed on well run-in to edge ahead closing stages, won at Gowran Park 3m in Oct beating Aughnacurraveel (10-11) by 1/2l, 16 ran.
Pateese (FR) 9-4fav (11-7) Tracked leaders, not fluent and ridden 4 out, blundered next, soon beaten, weakened 2 out, 5th of 8, 26l behind Big Talk (11-0) at Stratford 2m 7f nov chs (4) gs in Sep.
Seventh Sign 3-1 (10-13) Tracked leaders, took keen hold, went 2nd 3rd, led after 3 out, not fluent 2 out, clear last, ran on well, won at Chepstow 2m 4f nh nov hdl (4) gd in Apr beating Kilmurvy (11-5) by 5l, 12 ran.
God's Own (IRE) 7-2fav (11-3) Took keen hold, held up in mid-division, headway and staying on when badly hampered and unseated rider 2 out (normal 3 out), in a race won by Hidden Identity (10-9) at Chepstow 2m 4f hcp hdl 0-140 (3) gd in Oct, 12 ran.
Like Minded 20-1 (11-8) Held up in last pair, headway to 5th before 2 out, stayed on same pace last, 4th of 11, 7l behind Premier Dane (11-9) at Newton Abbot 2m 6f hcp hdl (2) sft in Sep '12.