Donald McCain won this a couple of years ago and saddles Kie, who has only had one run so far this season, and Swift Arrow. Both are previous course and distance winners as is Claragh Native, who had Quito Du Tresor behind when successful in November. His Excellency generally keeps better company than this and has tumbled down the weights. He could easily outclass these if in the mood but we'll take the view that French import UPEPITO will have needed his first run in this country at Market Rasen and he gets the vote. Stormin Exit only won a selling hurdle last month.
His Excellency (IRE) 14-1 (11-5) Mid-division, chased leaders before 4 out, kept on same pace from next, never on terms, 6th of 9, 15l behind Desert Cry (11-6) at Wetherby 2m hcp chs 0-145 (2) sft in Jan.
Kie (IRE) 8-1 (11-0) Pressed leader, blundered badly and nearly unseated rider 5th, mistake 8th and next, ridden and weakened before 3 out, tailed off, blundered last, last of 7, 32l behind Alasi (11-0) at Ascot 2m 1f hcp chs (2) gs in Nov.
Swift Arrow (IRE) 4-1 (11-12) Detatched in last pair, pushed along 5th, ridden and lost touch after 5 out, pulled up before next, in a race won by Claragh Native (10-4) at Musselburgh 2m hcp chs 0-135 (3) gd in Nov, 7 ran.
Upepito (FR) 6-4fav (11-12) Tracked leader, led 6th, headed approaching 2 out, 3rd and beaten when mistake last, weakened flat, 3rd of 7, 19l behind Firth Of The Clyde (11-10) at Market Rasen 2m 2f hcp chs 0-135 (3) hvy in Jan.
Quito Du Tresor (FR) 10-1 (10-5) Held up towards rear, ridden before 4 out, soon weakened, 7th of 8, 37l behind Mr Moonshine (11-9) at Musselburgh 2m 4f hcp chs 0-140 (3) sft in Jan.
Stormin Exit (IRE) 8-1 (11-4) With leader, left in lead 1st, hampered by loose horse 5 out, pressed from 3 out, kept on well from last, driven out, won at Musselburgh 2m sell hdl (5) gs in Jan beating Lac Sacre (10-13) by 7l, 6 ran.
Claragh Native (IRE) 9-2 (11-7) Held up, headway 4 out, one paced from next, 3rd of 4, 27l behind Alderbrook Lad (10-5) at Catterick 2m 3f hcp chs 0-120 (4) sft in Jan.