Italian Master was third at Worcester on his chasing debut back in May. But Noakarad De Verzee had finished closer despite only managing sixth at Kelso in the same month and he makes more appeal. Balbriggan ended last season with a narrow-margin defeat at Newton Abbot and Call Me Mulligan may get involved on his return, but LITTLE CHIP could prove the one to beat. He was upped 7lb for an easy win over these fences in September but went close again at Fontwell last month and can land this off his current mark.
Italian Master (IRE) 5-4fav (11-0) Led, jumped right, bumped 3rd, headed next, pressed leader, ridden before 3 out, weakened from 2 out, 3rd of 8, 38l behind Double Silver (10-7) at Worcester 2m 7f beg chase (4) gd in May.
Noakarad De Verzee (FR) 7-4 (12-0) Led til hdd & no ex 2 out, 2nd of 4, 7l behind Findlay's Find (12-0) at Ledbury 3m ptp sft in Apr.
Little Chip (IRE) Evensfav (11-5) Held up mid-division, mistake 4th, headway before 6 out, led 5 out, headed and mistake 4 out, lost 2nd place last, kept on and just held for 2nd place close home, 3rd of 8, 4 1/2l behind Eleazar (11-5) at Fontwell 3m 2f (4) gd in Oct.
Ringa Bay 3-1fav (11-12) Led until not fluent 1st, tracked leader until 3rd, stayed in touch in 3rd, jumped left 7th, lost place after 15th, weakened before 4 out, 5th of 8, 38l behind Western King (11-8) at Ludlow 3m hcp chs 0-120 (4) gd in Oct.
Balbriggan (IRE) 11-4fav (11-11) Led, not fluent 12th, ridden before 2 out, headed post, 2nd of 7, shd behind Thomas Wild (11-3) at Newton Abbot 3m 2f hcp chs 0-115 (4) gs in Apr.
Honest John 10-1 (10-5) In rear, tailed off 9th, pulled up before 3 out, in a race won by Fiddlers Reel (10-5) at Perth 3m nov hcp chs 0-130 (3) gs in Apr, 9 ran.
Very Stylish (IRE) 15-2 (11-4) Soon tracking leaders, outpaced 11th, weakened before 3 out, tailed off, 6th of 8, well behind Danandy (10-12) at Stratford 2m 7f hcp chs 0-120 (4) sft in Oct.
The Magic Bishop 14-1 (11-9) Held up in rear, not fluent 3rd or 12th, headway after 12th, mistake 14th, weakened next, tailed off, last of 10, well behind Bobble Hat Bob (11-2) at Kelso 3m 2f hcp chs 0-115 (4) gd in May.
Call Me Mulligan (IRE) 8-1 (10-0) Always prominent, pushed along 14th, went 2nd after 5 out, kept on same pace, no chance with winner from next, 2nd of 13, 14l behind Satou (10-13) at Uttoxeter 3m 2f hcp chs 0-120 (4) gf in Jun.
Tregaro (FR) 6-1 (10-9) Held up, hit 3 out, headway next, ridden in 4th before last, no impression, no extra flat, 5th of 7, 15l behind Rossini's Dancer (11-5) at Hexham 2m 4f hcp chs 0-120 (4) gd in Oct.