GRUMETI tackles this Grade 2 contest rather than the opening juvenile hurdle and can stay on track for the Triumph Hurdle with another victory. He needed the stewards' intervention to take the lion's share of the prize money at Cheltenham last time but that form has a very solid look about it and Alan King's charge would have been unbeaten over timber had he not fallen when going clear at Newbury previously. Keys was surprisingly outpaced by Super Duty at Ascot last week and is in danger of becoming disappointing. The drop back to 2m is probably in his favour but he may have to settle for a place again. Flat winners Dodging Bullets and Terre Du Vent should be placed to good effect soon but this is a tough start.
Crescent Beach (IRE) 14-1 (11-5) Not fluent 1st, led or disputed lead, went on after 6th, headed before 2 out, soon ridden, kept on same pace, no impression with winner approaching last, 2nd of 8, 4 1/2l behind Absinthe (11-5) at Bangor 2m 1f nh nov hdl (4) gs in Jan.
Keys (IRE) 4-7fav (11-0) Held up rear of mid-division, headway before 3 out, went 3rd soon after 3 out, tracked winner travelling well before 2 out, soon challenging, upsides and every chance last, ridden found little and weakened final 100 yards, 2nd of 10, 1 3/4l behind Super Duty (11-8) at Ascot 2m 3f nov hdl (2) gs.
Nazreef 100-1 (11-0) Took keen hold, held up in last pair, last and struggling after 5th, never on terms after, left modest 5th 2 out, 5th of 7, 17l behind Molotof (11-7) at Ascot 2m nov hdl G2 (1) sft in Dec.
Grumeti 7-4fav (11-4) Keen early, tracked leaders, went 2nd between last 2, led narrowly last, soon ridden and hard pressed, carried right flat, kept on, headed narrowly near finish (awarded race), won at Cheltenham 2m 1f 4yo hdl Grade 2 (1) gs in Jan beating Pearl Swan (11-7) by shd, 6 ran.
Terre Du Vent (FR) (9-1) 4th of 16, 5l behind Tac De Boistron (9-1) at Saint-Cloud(FR) 1m 7f Listed stks (1) hvy in Nov (flat).
Dodging Bullets 11-4 (9-9) Waited with 4th of the 5, good progress to lead 2f out, strongly pressed final furlong, stayed on well to assert closing stages, won at Sligo 1m 2f 3yo hcp in Aug beating Hisaabaat (9-2) by 1/2l, 5 ran (flat).
Zarzal (IRE) 9-2 (9-3) Tracked leader in chasing group, closed 3f out, soon led, ridden clear over 1f out, headed inside final firlong, kept on, 2nd of 8, 3/4l behind Kayalar (9-3) at Lingfield 1m 5f mdn stks (5) pol (flat).