This should give a line to the respective merits of novices in the UK and Ireland as CAPTAIN CONAN will test the water for Nicky Henderson and can come out on top. Looking in need of the run and a stiffer test, he still managed to land the Grade 1 Tolworth at Sandown last month and this should be much more to his liking. Sous Les Cieux came here for the Future Champions at Christmas as a long odds-on chance after his earlier Grade 1 victory at Fairyhouse but failed to fire and was beaten fair and square by Cash And Go, who showed admirable battling qualities. Il Fenomeno was only fifth in the Future Champions but that was nowhere near his form as he had previously beaten the runner-up in that event, Dylan Ross, at Navan. A line through Dylan Ross suggests that Lord Windermere is no forlorn hope here as he beat the last named in a Listed event at Punchestown in December.
Benefficient (IRE) 2-1fav (11-5) Soon led, headed 5 out, weakened and pulled up before 3 uot, in a race won by Folsom Blue (11-2) at Thurles 2m 6f nov hdl sft in Jan, 8 ran.
Il Fenomeno (ITY) 5-2 (11-10) Settled in 3rd, closer approaching 3 out, soon ridden and no impression in 5th 2 out, no extra, 5th of 6, 25l behind Sous Les Cieux (11-10) at Fairyhouse 2m nov hdl Grade 1 (1) sft in Dec.
Lord Windermere (IRE) 4-1 (11-9) Tracked leader mainly 3rd, ridden to challenge approaching last, led early run-in, soon strongly pressed, kept on well under pressure to just prevail, won at Punchestown 2m lst nov hdl (4yo+) (1) in Dec beating Dylan Ross (11-9) by hd, 5 ran.
Sous Les Cieux (FR) 4-9fav (11-10) Keen hold and led, challenged entering straight, ridden and headed before last, no extra and kept on one pace, 3rd of 5, 5l behind Cash And Go (11-7) at Leopardstown 2m nov hdl Grade 1 (1) in Dec.
Captain Conan (FR) 9-1 (11-7) Tracked leader, ridden when switched right approaching 2 out, stayed on from last, driven narrowly ahead as leader hung badly final 180 yards, just held on, all out, won at Sandown 2m nov hdl Grade 1 (1) sft in Jan beating Colour Squadron (11-7) by shd, 5 ran.
Cash And Go (IRE) 11-2 (11-7) Chased leader in 2nd, challenged entering straight, ridden to lead before last, strongly pressed from last, disputed briefly run-in, asserted close home, won at Leopardstown 2m nov hdl Grade 1 (1) in Dec beating Dylan Ross (11-10) by 1/2l, 5 ran.
Burn And Turn (IRE) 10-3 (11-5) Tracked leaders, 5th halfway, 3rd 2 out, headway to lead just before last, kept on well run-in, won at Leopardstown 2m mdn hdl sft in Jan beating Double Double (11-12) by 2 3/4l, 13 ran.