SAINT ROQUE was only beaten a short-head by the much more experienced Pantxoa on his debut over the larger obstacles at Cheltenham last month. He only beat Rum And Butter by half-a-length over hurdles at Cheltenham in October but the latter tackles fences for the first time today and Paul Nicholls' charge can come out on top again. Handazan won twice over timber and probably has a future over fences but he hasn't raced since November and Portrait Emotion and Natural Spring have been off the track even longer. Golden Hoof can't be ignored given connections, however, and Grand Gold is lightly raced.
Golden Hoof (IRE) 50-1 (10-11) With leader, led narrowly 3 out to next, weakened last, 8th of 22, 21l behind Clondaw Kaempfer (11-4) at Aintree 2m 4f hcp hdl Grade 3 (1) gs in Apr.
Grand Gold 25-1 (11-11) 5th of 19, 12l behind Here's Herbie (10-10) at Exeter 2m 3f hcp hdl 0-125 (3) gs in Mar.
Handazan (IRE) 25-1 (11-9) With leaders, lost place 4 out, soon behind, 15th of 20, well behind Thomas Crapper (11-3) at Cheltenham 2m 5f hcp hdl 0-140 (3) gd in Nov.
Portrait Emotion (IRE) 33-1 (10-13) Tracked leaders on inside, ridden 7th, hit next, weakened quickly soon after, tailed off, 6th of 8, well behind Cloudy Copper (11-8) at Kempton 3m nh nov hdl (3) sft in Jan '13.
Rum And Butter (IRE) 20-1 (11-6) Tracked leaders, hit 5th, well beaten after 2 out, 23rd of 24, well behind Don Poli (11-5) at Cheltenham 2m 4f (2) gd in Mar.
Saint Roque (FR) 13-8 (11-0) Tracked winner, closed 2 out, ridden and strong challenge flat, just held, 2nd of 5, shd behind Pantxoa (11-8) at Cheltenham 2m 5f nov chs (2) gd in Apr.
Natural Spring 14-1 (11-7) Chased leader until 3rd, prominent, pushed along before 2 out, weakened 2 out, 6th of 11, 10l behind Polly Peachum (10-4) at Kempton 2m 5f mares nov hcp hdl Listed (1) gs in Apr '13.