A very high quality renewal of a race that amazingly Willie Mullins hasn't won. The champion trainer is represented by Aupcharlie and BACK IN FOCUS and though the former is a very promising chaser it's the latter who looks the one to be on. A winning point-to-pointer and Grade 2 winning hurdler, he's taken to fences in tremendous style and looked a future champion stayer when galloping today's rival Lyreen Legend into the ground at Punchestown last month. Benefficient had no answer to Arvika Ligeoniere here on Wednesday but will have found the trip much too short though Dedigout, who was beaten 11l by that winner at Fairyhouse earlier this month, looks more of a threat. Tofino Bay battled to victory in a tough handicap at Navan last month and will be suited by a thorough test of stamina while there are plenty more options in what should be a tremendous and informative contest.
Aupcharlie (IRE) 6-4fav (11-12) Tracked leader in 2nd, headway to dispute approaching 3 out and led before next, kept on well, won at Gowran Park 2m 4f beg chs hvy in Nov beating Toon River (11-9) by 11l, 11 ran.
Back In Focus (IRE) 2-5fav (11-3) Settled 3rd early, 2nd from 5th, led 6 out, slight mistake 4 out, slight mistake 3 out and challenged, ridden before straight, asserted before last, kept on well, won at Punchestown 2m 6f nov chs G2 (1) hvy in Nov beating Lyreen Legend (11-2) by 4l, 4 ran.
Benefficient (IRE) 12-1 (11-12) Held up, 4th from 5 out, no extra from after 2 out, 4th of 5, 16l behind Arvika Ligeonniere (11-12) at Leopardstown 2m 1f nov chs Grade 1 (4yo+) (1) sft.
Cootamundra (IRE) 12-1 (11-2) Tracked leaders, moderate 3rd 3 out, soon ridden, went 2nd from 2 out, kept on without threatening easy winner, 2nd of 7, 7l behind Oscars Well (11-8) at Navan 2m 1f nov chs hvy.
Dedigout (IRE) Evensfav (11-10) Tracked leaders in moderate 4th, moderate 4th and pushed along 4 out, went moderate 2nd next, kept on same pace under pressure from 2 out, not trouble impressive winner, 2nd of 5, 11l behind Arvika Ligeonniere (11-10) at Fairyhouse 2m 4f nov chs Grade 1 (4yo+) (1) sft.
Mount Benbulben (IRE) 8-13fav (11-12) Chased leaders early, mistake 2nd and towards rear, jumped right next, headway in 4th entering straight, closer 2 out and soon led after fence, in command when slight mistake last, easily, won at Fairyhouse 2m 5f beg chs sft beating Mackeys Forge (11-12) by 5l, 7 ran.
Pride Of The Artic (IRE) 14-1 (11-10) Tracked leader in moderate 2nd, mistake 4 out, soon dropped to 4th, weakened before straight, 4th of 5, 33l behind Arvika Ligeonniere (11-10) at Fairyhouse 2m 4f nov chs Grade 1 (4yo+) (1) sft.
Texas Jack (IRE) 14-1 (11-10) Raced last, mistake 1st, moderate 5th 4 out, went moderate 3rd and ridden along next, no impression on leaders straight, kept on one paced in moderate 3rd, 3rd of 5, 31l behind Arvika Ligeonniere (11-10) at Fairyhouse 2m 4f nov chs Grade 1 (4yo+) (1) sft.
Tofino Bay (IRE) 8-1 (11-4) Tracked leaders, close 2nd entering straight, disputed lead travelling well 2 out (usual 3 out), led and ridden after last (usual 2 out), rider dropped whip 1f out, kept on well under pressure final furlong, won at Navan 3m hcp chs 0-150 hvy in Nov beating Like Your Style (10-10) by 1/2l, 20 ran.
Tusa Eire (IRE) 40-1 (11-12) Towards rear, no impression from 5 out, 6th of 8, well behind The Westener Boy (11-11) at Navan 3m beg chase hvy.
Jenari (IRE) 13-2 (11-8) Tracked leaders in 3rd, moderate 3rd 4 out, ridden entering straight, kept on one paced, 3rd of 7, 8l behind Oscars Well (11-8) at Navan 2m 1f nov chs hvy.
Lyreen Legend (IRE) 5-2 (11-2) Mistake 1st and rear, disputed 3rd from 7th, slight mistake 4 out, challenged 3 out, ridden in 2nd entering straight, no extra before last, kept on same pace, 2nd of 4, 4l behind Back In Focus (11-3) at Punchestown 2m 6f nov chs G2 (1) hvy in Nov.
The Westener Boy (IRE) 9-1 (11-11) Tracked leaders, jumped left 10th, good progress into close 2nd 3 out, led next, went well clear before last, stayed on strongly run-in, easily, won at Navan 3m beg chase hvy beating Marasonnien (11-12) by 25l, 8 ran.