Ardistan makes his first start for Jonjo O'Neill and needs a precautionary market check but without that guide we'll take FRIENDLY KING to land this from Tide Slider. George Baker finally had a winner this week and with stable confidence boosted can add to that with success here. His gelding was allotted a mark of 125 after readily landing a maiden hurdle in conditions similar to those faced here and whilst struggling in handicap company since today's revised mark of 115 offers hope to Andrew Tinkler's mount who could be returned a decent price. Tide Slider is feared despite being winless from 15 starts under rules. Steve Gollings' consistent gelding has been dropped a pound for taking second last time and whilst still plenty high enough for one without a victory the horse will enjoy conditions and arrives here fit and in form. Ardistan has been off the track since contesting a decent flat handicap at the Curragh back in August. This son of Selkirk is interesting on his first start for new trainer O'Neill and did win a small race over obstacles in Ireland. On the face of it his mark of 113 is high enough and it's no surprise connections turn to a 10lb claimer to ease that burden but nevertheless the horse needs a market check. Final Veto is the other most likely to attract punters' attentions and rightly so as Sue Smith's gelding looks nicely treated on his win last December. Off the track since that run until reappearing at this course a couple of weeks ago it is feasible connections had their eye on this race and if avoiding the bounce factor this one could take a hand in proceedings. Of the remainder Deep Reflection has plenty of solid form but hasn't been showing it of late and so we return to Friendly King to grab the spoils.
Friendly King 16-1 (11-12) Held up, pushed along after 3 out, soon weakened, tailed off, 5th of 7, 21l behind River Logic (11-2) at Market Rasen 2m 5f hcp hdl 0-120 (3) sft in Nov.
Ardistan (IRE) 9-2 (10-6) Mid-division, improved into 5th 4 out, 4th approaching 2 out, soon lost place and no extra under pressure, pulled up before last, in a race won by Steve Capall (10-7) at Galway 2m 4f hcp hdl 8Evens23 sft in Jul, 17 ran.
Final Veto 7-1 (10-13) Tracked leaders, went 2nd 3 out, weakened next, 6th of 7, 24l behind River Logic (11-2) at Market Rasen 2m 5f hcp hdl 0-120 (3) sft in Nov.
Edmo Yewkay (IRE) 16-1 (10-0) Close up on outside, lost place 5th, struggling next, behind when pulled up before 2 out, in a race won by Overstrand (10-0) at Market Rasen 2m 3f hcp hdl 0-135 (3) sft in Nov, 7 ran.
Tide Slider 11-4 (11-3) Tracked leader, led approaching 2 out, headed approaching last, no extra, 2nd of 9, 7l behind Hareem (10-3) at Market Rasen 2m 3f clm hdl (5) sft in Nov.
King Mak 25-1 (11-3) Tracked winner, hit 6th, every chance 2 out, ridden and soon weakened, 7th of 9, 27l behind Still At Lunch (10-7) at Kelso 2m 2f hcp hdl 0-115 (4) gs in May.
Deep Reflection 11-1 (10-12) Mistake 7th, always behind, tailed off, 12th of 15, well behind Dovedale (10-11) at Exeter 2m 3f hcp hdl 0-115 (4) gd in Oct.
Karathaena (IRE) 40-1 (10-9) Tracked leaders, ridden approaching 2 out, in 3rd when blundered badly last, kept on, 3rd of 9, 6l behind Laborec (10-4) at Wetherby 2m 6f cond clm hdl (4yo+) (5) sft in Nov.