The highlight of a brilliant day's racing. UK raiders have won six of the last nine with Paul Nicholls successful twice. He's represented this time by Tidal Bay, already the winner of 13 of his 37 races though surprisingly having his first start outside of the UK. He remains in outstanding form and could hardly have run any better when attempting to concede Bobs Worth 6lb in the Hennessy last time and Ruby Walsh will certainly ensure his stamina comes into play, especially as Flemenstar is untried over the trip. Peter Casey's stable star has been absolutely brilliant in winning his last seven starts on all types of ground. His trainer believes he could be even better over this trip and he won a point-to-point as a youngster but his impressive victory over SIR DES CHAMPS in the John Durkan left some questions unanswered. Willie Mullins' charge was never able to get in a blow that day but that was his first start since he won the Champion Novice Chase at Punchestown in April. He'll be much better suited by the longer trip here and is taken to reverse the form and jump to the head of the Gold Cup betting. Midnight Chase holds a verdict over Tidal Bay though that was at Cheltenham where he has an outstanding record. Hidden Cyclone wasn't beaten far by the selection here in January and could prove best of the remainder.
China Rock (IRE) 20-1 (11-10) Chased leaders, 3rd from before 6 out, closed travelling well from before 2 out, challenged approaching last, soon led, stayed on well to draw clear closing stages, won at Punchestown 3m 1f chs G1 (1) hvy in Apr beating Follow The Plan (11-10) by 5l, 8 ran.
First Lieutenant (IRE) 12-1 (11-5) Led 1st to 2nd, pressed leader, led again 16th, ridden and headed before last, no extra when lost 2nd flat, 3rd of 19, 8l behind Bobs Worth (11-6) at Newbury 3m 2f Grade 3 hcp chs (4yo+) (1) gs.
Flemenstar (IRE) Evensfav (11-10) Made all, jumped well, quickened clear 2 out, ran on strongly, impressive, won at Punchestown 2m 4f Grade 1 chs (1) hvy beating Sir Des Champs (11-10) by 5l, 3 ran.
Hidden Cyclone (IRE) 11-10fav (11-10) Made most, disputed early until led before 3rd, joined briefly 7th, kept on well in straight and in control from before last, won at Gowran Park 2m 4f chs hvy in Nov beating Call The Police (11-6) by 4 1/2l, 6 ran.
Midnight Chase 9-1 (11-10) With leader, mistake 4 out, soon outpaced, ridden and kept on same pace, 3rd of 6, 16l behind Silviniaco Conti (11-5) at Wetherby 3m 1f chs G2 (1) gs in Nov.
Pandorama (IRE) 14-1 (11-10) Held up in touch on inside, hampered on bend before 11th, outpaced 4 out, beaten when hit next, 7th of 13, 23l behind Long Run (11-10) at Cheltenham 3m 2f chs G1 (1) gd in Mar '11.
Quito De La Roque (FR) 13-8fav (11-10) Tracked leaders, ridden and pressing for 2nd 4 out, slightly outpaced soon after, closed 3 out, stayed on same pace approaching last, 3rd of 4, 6l behind Wayward Prince (11-0) at Aintree 3m 1f Listed chs (1) sft.
Sir Des Champs (FR) 5-4 (11-10) Settled in 3rd, jumpoed well, pushed along briefly before 3 out, 2nd and driven to challenge before 2 out, soon outpaced, no impression from before last, kept on, 2nd of 3, 5l behind Flemenstar (11-10) at Punchestown 2m 4f Grade 1 chs (1) hvy.
Tidal Bay (IRE) 8-1 (11-12) Held up in rear, steady headway 5 out, chased leading pair 2 out, ridden and stayed on to chase winner flat, always held, 2nd of 19, 3 1/2l behind Bobs Worth (11-6) at Newbury 3m 2f Grade 3 hcp chs (4yo+) (1) gs.