ITSA LEGEND could upset some bigger names here with slight doubts surrounding Lodge Lane, Sir Jimmy Shand and Au Courant. Or Jaune will need to improve for cheekpieces and Mount Oscar will need to run right up to his best if they're to be involved and it would be a surprise to see either score. Lodge Lane is potentially very smart and there's nothing wrong with his form but he's the first runner back for Victor Dartnall since he shut down the yard in December and he couldn't be backed with confidence as a result. Sir Jimmy Shand was all the rage prior his return to action at Newbury but finished tailed off and is difficult to recommend as a consequence. Au Courant justified his connections' patience when winning at Leicester but his main market rival fell and the spectre of the bounce factor has to be mentioned. He does have two Cheltenham entries though and he has to be feared. Alan King's gelding lowered the colours of Big Fella Thanks at Taunton on his chase bow which was a step up on the form that he showed over hurdles. He's tough, trip and ground are fine and we'll take Itsa Legend to lower the colours of some better fancied rivals.
Au Courant (IRE) 4-1 (11-2) Chased leader, just over 4 lengths down when left in lead 10th, drew clear approaching last, eased towards finish, won at Leicester 2m 4f beg chs (4) sft in Dec beating Mount Sandel (11-2) by 4 1/2l, 4 ran.
Itsa Legend 7-2 (11-1) Tracked leaders, went 2nd 6th, challenging when mistake and stumbled badly 3 out, soon ridden, rallied approaching last, led near finish, won at Taunton 2m 7f beg chs (4) sft in Dec beating Big Fella Thanks (11-1) by a shd, 4 ran.
Lodge Lane (IRE) 11-8fav (10-12) Tracked leader, led 13th until hit next, led 4 out, clear last, stayed on well, pushed out, won at Exeter 3m nov chs (3) sft in Nov beating Wichita Lineman (11-4) by 7l, 8 ran.
Forthright 50-1 (11-0) Tracked leaders, hit 5th, reminders, ridden approaching 4 out, soon one pace, 4th of 7, 13l behind Radetsky March (11-0) at Fontwell 2m 6f beg chs (4) sft in Dec.
Mount Oscar (IRE) 20-1 (10-11) Chased leader, slightly hampered 3rd, hampered again 12th, mistake and weakened next, tailed off, 11th of 18, well behind Fleet Street (11-10) at Kempton 3m hcp chs 0-140 (2) gd in Dec.
Or Jaune (FR) 10-11fav (11-0) Held up, headway 11th, ridden after 4 out, held when mistake last, 3rd of 7, 7l behind Radetsky March (11-0) at Fontwell 2m 6f beg chs (4) sft in Dec.
Sir Jimmy Shand (IRE) 7-4 (11-0) Not fluent, led until 4th, chased winner until mistake 6th, hit 10th, weakened before 4 out, tailed off, last of 5, well behind Planet of Sound (11-0) at Newbury 2m 2f nov chs (3) gs in Dec.