Earls Quarter went close on the Polytrack at Dundalk when trained by Willie Mullins. He's yet to figure over fences for new connections but is still preferred to Akula. Empire Levant won three times on the Flat in France but will need to step up on his latest fifth in one of these events to figure. Stormy Weather makes more appeal as he was winning off a mark of 84 on the level back in 2012, but the safest bet looks to be ALFRAAMSEY. He showed progressive form over hurdles last year and won twice on the Polytrack here when competing on the Flat.
Akula (IRE) 28-1 (11-1) Led, not fluent 3rd, headed 8th, led next, jumped slowly and headed 10th, lost place but still in touch when mistake and unseated rider 11th, in a race won by Funny Star (11-1) at Doncaster 2m 3f nov chs (4) gd in Nov, 6 ran.
Alfraamsey 6-1 (11-4) Led until 2nd, chased leader until after 4th, chased leaders, hit 6th, went 2nd again 3 out, led before 2 out, strongly pressed last, stayed on gamely flat, won at Plumpton 2m hcp hdl 0-135 (3) gf in Sep beating Orthodox Lad (10-0) by 1l, 10 ran.
Earls Quarter (IRE) 25-1 (11-0) Tracked leader, pecked 2nd, mistake and lost 2nd 5th, chased leading pair, no chance from 4 out, hit 2 out, weakened to modest 4th run in, 4th of 5, 37l behind Valdez (11-5) at Newbury 2m 1f (3) gd in Nov.
Empire Levant (USA) 10-1 (11-0) Prominent, led 5f out, ridden and headed over 2f out, weakened inside final furlong, 5th of 13, 10l behind Domtaline (11-0) at Kempton 2m n h flat (4) std in Jan.
Stormy Weather (FR) 10-1 (11-5) Always towards rear, 8th of 9, 41l behind Clever Cookie (10-12) at Musselburgh 2m hcp hdl 0-130 (3) gs in Jan.