This is one of the most competitive handicaps of the NH season and always a good trial for Cheltenham. A few have come out of this and run well in the Champion Hurdle, though whether we have another Make A Stand in the line-up this year is questionable. Pearl Swan still has an entry in the big race, however, and should strip fitter for his run in a jumpers' bumper at Kempton. The stable won this last year with a similarly unexposed type. Cotton Mill may have given Simonsig a race at Cheltenham last year had he not crashed out at the second-last but this looks on the sharp side for John Ferguson's returning six-year-old while Cause Of Causes is 10lb higher than when beating Petit Robin and several of today's rivals in the Ladbroke at Ascot before Christmas, though has won at Navan since. Swing Bowler has been well backed ante-post and is so far unbeaten. She easily accounted for Ingleby Spirit on her reappearance at Musselburgh but connections are concerned that this may be too much too soon for the mare and David Pipe also saddles the potentially well-treated Ronaldo Des Mottes. MY TENT OR YOURS undoubtedly needs to improve again on what he's shown so far if he's to land this and is plenty short enough in the betting. But he's a leading fancy for next month's Supreme Novices' Hurdle and would probably have to go close in this if he was to justify a tall home reputation. Court Minstrel has been highly tried in novice company but far from disgraced and could be a threat from near the foot of the weights.
Petit Robin (FR) 25-1 (11-5) Chased leaders, 3rd and travelling well before 2 out, led 2 out, 2 lengths ahead last, headed and not pace of winner flat, 2nd of 21, 4l behind Cause Of Causes (10-13) at Ascot 2m Listed hcp hdl (1) hvy in Dec.
Cause Of Causes (USA) 6-4 (11-10) Chased leader in 2nd, close up entering straight, challenged and mistake 3 out, soon pushed along in 2nd, ridden to challenge again last, disputed run-in and led at line, won at Navan 2m hdl hvy in Jan beating Midnight Game (11-9) by shd, 3 ran.
My Tent Or Yours (IRE) 4-7fav (11-12) Held up, took keen hold, headway 5th, led 3 out, clear when went left 2 out and last, very easily, won at Huntingdon 2m NH nov hdl (4-7yo) (4) sft in Jan beating Population (11-2) by 7l, 13 ran.
Dark Lover (GER) 9-2fav (11-8) Mid-division, smooth headway before 2 out, went 3rd between last 2, led going well approaching last where not fluent, driven clear flat, comfortably, won at Cheltenham 2m 1f hcp hdl 0-135 (3) hvy in Dec beating Open Day (10-3) by 16l, 17 ran.
Pearl Swan (FR) 5-4fav (11-4) Tracked leaders, led on bit over 2f out, ridden over 1f out, headed inside final furlong, not pace of winner, 2nd of 14, 2 1/2l behind Fair Trade (11-4) at Kempton 2m n h flat (4) std in Jan.
Cash And Go (IRE) 11-2fav (11-2) Towards rear when blundered and unseated rider 4th, in a race won by Cause Of Causes (10-13) at Ascot 2m Listed hcp hdl (1) hvy in Dec, 21 ran.
Punjabi 14-1 (11-7) Led, headed after 3 out, weakened next, 6th of 7, 32l behind Darlan (11-7) at Kempton 2m hdl G1 (1) hvy in Dec.
Cotton Mill 6-1 (11-4) Tracked leaders, every chance approaching 3 out, soon ridden, weakened flat, 3rd of 19, 13l behind Lovcen (11-4) at Aintree 3m nov hdl Grade 1 (1) gd in Apr.
Ronaldo Des Mottes (FR) 20-1 (11-5) Held up towards rear, headway on outside 3 out, kept on from after 2 out, disputing 3rd but no chance with winner last, no extra in 4th closing stages, 4th of 12, 12l behind Lord Of House (9-9) at Sandown 2m hcp hdl 0-145 (2) hvy in Jan.
Baby Mix (FR) 6-1 (10-4) Prominent, not fluent 3 out, soon ridden, weakened before next, 5th of 7, 24l behind Zarkandar (11-10) at Wincanton 2m Ltd hcp hdl (1) gs in Nov.
Princeton Plains (IRE) 25-1 (10-10) Towards rear, stayed on from 2 out, went 6th flat, never on terms, 6th of 21, 18l behind Cause Of Causes (10-13) at Ascot 2m Listed hcp hdl (1) hvy in Dec.
Claret Cloak (IRE) 8-1 (10-10) Chased leader, led 4 out, driven and strongly pressed last, narrowly headed flat, stayed on same pace in 3rd after, 3rd of 15, 2l behind Raya Star (11-12) at Ascot 2m Listed hcp hdl (1) gs in Nov.
The Betchworth Kid 16-1 (11-5) Held up behind, mistake 8th, headway under pressure after next, kept on same pace, 8th and no impression when mistake 2 out, 8th of 19, 30l behind Poungach (11-4) at Sandown 2m 6f hcp hdl (2) gs in Dec '11.
Manyriverstocross (IRE) 11-2fav (10-13) Raced wide, took keen hold, held up towards rear, headway approaching 4th, chased leaders gong well 3 out, stayed on to 3rd before last, one pace and no threat to leading duo, 3rd of 17, 5l behind Menorah (11-12) at Cheltenham 2m hcp hdl Grade 3 (1) gs in Nov '10.
Swing Bowler 3-1fav (11-4) Mid-division on inside, driven after 4 out, led 2 out, ridden and stayed on well flat, won at Musselburgh 2m hcp hdl (2) sft in Jan beating Ingleby Spirit (11-9) by 4 1/2l, 14 ran.
Village Vic (IRE) 11-4fav (10-12) Held up in last pair, headway and in touch 2 out, driven between last 2, one pace when switched inside before last, weakened flat, 6th of 8, 8l behind Melodic Rendezvous (10-12) at Cheltenham 2m 1f NH nov hdl 4-6yo (3) hvy in Dec.
Lyvius 14-1 (10-1) Mid-division, headway to chase leaders 5th, ridden and weakened quickly before 2 out, tailed off, 18th of 21, well behind Cause Of Causes (10-13) at Ascot 2m Listed hcp hdl (1) hvy in Dec.
Ingleby Spirit 9-2 (11-7) Chased leaders, ridden after 6th, no impression before 2 out, stayed on final 100 yards, 4th of 10, 7l behind Brick Red (11-12) at Musselburgh 2m hcp hdl 0-145 (2) gs.
First In The Queue (IRE) 8-1 (11-4) Tracked leaders, ridden over 2f out, kept on well inside final furlong, 3rd of 16, 3 1/2l behind Dr Livingstone (11-4) at Kempton 2m n h flat (3) std in Jan.
Court Minstrel (IRE) 5-1 (11-7) Held up last, good headway on inside before 3 out, went 3rd soon after 2 out, well held when blundered last, weakened to 4th flat, 4th of 7, 15l behind Melodic Rendezvous (11-7) at Sandown 2m nov hdl Grade 1 (1) hvy in Jan.
Into Wain (USA) 16-1 (10-1) In touch, headway to 5th approaching 2 out, soon ridden, weakened before last, 8th of 21, 28l behind Cause Of Causes (10-13) at Ascot 2m Listed hcp hdl (1) hvy in Dec.
Caid Du Berlais (FR) 9-4fav (11-0) Held up, outpaced approaching 3 out, headway next, not fluent last, left 2nd soon after, stayed on well towards finish, 2nd of 8, 1 1/4l behind Ruacana (11-0) at Chepstow 2m 4yo hdl Grade 1 (1) hvy in Jan.
Home Run (GER) 4-1 (11-3) Led until after 4th, under pressure 3 out, soon rallied, stayed on under pressure after last, 2nd of 6, 2 3/4l behind Mr Mole (11-12) at Taunton 2m 1f Novice Handicap Hurdle (0-130) (4yo+) (3) hvy.