Irish Saint is sure to be popular in this opener having his first start for Paul Nicholls. Despite starting at big odds, he won a Listed race for Guy Cherel at Auteuil in September on his hurdles bow and today's going won't be a problem. But, receiving 4lb, we like the look of CAPTAIN CARDINGTON. A real mud-lark, Sheena West's gelding impressed at Sandown earlier this month and also won on heavy ground on the Flat in October. McVicar won here and at Huntingdon before finding Grade 2 company too strong at Cheltenham last time. He should also make his presence felt but newcomers Allowed and Shadarpour may need the experience.
Irish Saint (FR) (10-3) won at Auteuil(FR) 2m 2f 3yo hdl hvy in Sep beating Ace Chop (10-3) by 5l, 15 ran.
Mcvicar 11-2 (11-6) Held up in touch, headway to chase leaders when mistake 4th, close 3rd and every chance 3 out, pushed along and outpaced approaching next, no extra in 4th before last, dropped to 5th post, 5th of 8, 36l behind Far West (11-2) at Cheltenham 2m 3yo hdl (1) sft in Nov.
Captain Cardington (IRE) 7-1 (10-12) Tracked leader, led 5th, pressed from 2 out, held on well towards finish, driven out, won at Sandown 2m 3yo hdl (4) hvy beating Valco De Touzaine (11-7) by 1l, 10 ran.
Allowed 5-1 (9-5) Chased leader, carried slightly off 1st bend, led under 2f out, headed and no extra from 1f out, 7th of 13, 11l behind Massiyn (9-5) at Roscommon 1m 2f mdn stks gd in May (flat).
Asian Prince (IRE) 66-1 (10-12) Held up in mid-division, headway 5th, mistake 3 out, weakening when mistake next, 7th of 15, 19l behind In The Crowd (10-12) at Warwick 2m 3yo hdl (4) sft.
King Arthur (GER) (9-6) 10th of 12 Soprana (8-11) at Halle(GER) 1m 1f 3yo stk gd in Oct (flat).
Shadarpour (IRE) (9-4) 3rd of 20, 10l behind Suora (8-8) at Maisons-Laffitte(FR) 1m 7f 3yo clm hvy in Oct (flat).
Choisirez (IRE) 10-1 (10-0) Led, headed before 5th, weakened before 2 out, tailed off, 6th of 8, 28l behind Finch Flyer (11-5) at Hereford 2m 1f nov hcp hdl 0-115 (4) gf in Sep.