Paul Nicholls takes the rare step of placing PROMISING ANSHAN in handicap company for his debut over fences but there's a good reason for doing so. A winner between the flags last year, the five-year-old scored over timber for Charlie Mann in March and his new handler is exploiting a low mark over fences. Nicky Henderson is taking exactly the same route with Topsham Belle, a bumper winner and twice successful over hurdles. She has the pedigree for chasing and is another who could be in here off a tempting mark. Another quality hurdler making his chasing bow is Mostly Bob, though he'll do well to concede weight to some potentially very useful rivals. Reblis has been undone by moderate jumping in his races over the bigger obstacles but generally gets round and was only just beaten off today's mark here in December.
Mostly Bob (IRE) 13-2 (10-11) Mid-division, headway after 4 out, chased leaders and hit 3 out, stayed on well before last, went 3rd final 100 yards, 3rd of 12, 9l behind Barafundle (11-2) at Newbury 3m hcp hdl 0-140 (2) gs in Nov.
Ikorodu Road 3-1 (10-12) Tracked leader until 3 out, regained 2nd after 2 out, upsides when left in lead last, headed towards finish, 2nd of 7, 1 1/4l behind On Borrowed Wings (10-12) at Stratford 2m 4f nov chs (3) gd in Oct.
Key Cutter (FR) 7-2 (11-2) Went left at some fences, led until 6th, led again before next, hit 13th, left 6 lengths ahead 4 out, stayed on well from 2 out, won at Kempton 3m beg chs (4) gd in Nov beating Strategic Approach (11-2) by 4 1/2l, 5 ran.
Moleskin (IRE) 8-1 (11-9) Held up, not fluent 8th (water), outpaced 14th, soon weakened, tailed off, 6th of 9, well behind Iconoclast (11-8) at Exeter 3m hcp chs 0-125 (3) gs in Nov.
Major Malarkey (IRE) 3-1fav (10-13) Mid-division, headway when not fluent 9th, soon chasing leaders, ridden 14th, under pressure 3 out, soon weakened, 3rd of 11, 8l behind Summery Justice (11-9) at Bangor 3m hcp chs 0-135 (3) sft in Nov.
Topsham Belle (IRE) 12-1 (10-7) Mid-division, ridden when not fluent 4th, soon struggling, 12th of 18, 28l behind Ryde Back (10-5) at Newbury 2m 5f mares nov hcp hdl Listed (1) sft in Mar.
Promising Anshan (IRE) 5-1 (11-0) Prominent, pecked 6th, not fluent 8th, hung left after 3 out, weakened last, 4th of 12, 10l behind Mostly Bob (11-5) at Aintree 2m 4f nh nov hdl (4) gd in May.
Double Pride 9-2 (11-3) Tracked leading pair until left 2nd 8th, lost place after 4 out, chased winner under pressure again next, lost 2nd 2 out, kept on same pace, no impression, 3rd of 6, 7l behind Adams Island (10-10) at Uttoxeter 3m beg chs (4) hvy in Nov.
Space Mission (IRE) 12-1 (11-12) Chased leaders, went 2nd before 2 out where mistake and weakened soon after, 9th of 19, 22l behind Cathedral Rock (11-10) at Sandown 2m 4f hcp hdl 0-120 (3) gs in Feb '09.
Alldunnandusted (IRE) 12-1 (10-10) Well in touch, driven along and outpaced in 4th after 3 out, stayed on to dispute 3rd after 2 out, no impression on front pair when hit last, 4th of 6, 6l behind Ravethebrave (11-1) at Folkestone 2m 5f nov ch 0-125 (3) sft in Nov.
Reblis (FR) 9-2 (11-10) Tracked leaders, went 2nd 14th, challenged 4 out until before last, no extra flat, 2nd of 5, 12l behind Ovthenight (10-9) at Huntingdon 3m hcp chs 0-115 (4) gs in Nov.
Near The Water (IRE) 15-2 (11-12) Held up in 5th, outpaced and dropped to rear before 8th, headway next, chased leading pair 3 out, went 2nd after 2 out, 5 lengths to find jumping last, driven and stayed on to lead final 100 yards, won at Lingfield 2m hcp chs 0-110 (4) hvy in Nov beating Nautical Approach (11-10) by 1 1/2l, 6 ran.
Pliny (IRE) 8-1 (11-11) Mid-division on outside, pushed along 6th, lost place next, behind from 4 out, tailed off when pulled up before next, in a race won by Eighteen Carat (11-6) at Aintree 2m 4f nov hcp hdl 0-120 (3) sft in Nov, 10 ran.
Three Chords (IRE) 20-1 (11-2) Tracked leaders, took keen hold, chased winner 10th until before next, continued to chase winner from 4 out, no impression after 3 out, 2nd of 7, 7l behind Predictive (11-2) at Uttoxeter 2m 6f beg chs (4) sft in Nov.
Russian Song (IRE) 7-2 (11-0) Tracked leading pair, led narrowly approaching 4 out, strongly presssed when blundered and headed 2 out, hung left nbefore last, rallied under pressure close home, always just held, 2nd of 5, nk behind Diamond Brook (11-12) at Exeter 2m 3f nov hcp chs 0-130 (3) sft in Nov.
Mealagh Valley (IRE) 7-2fav (11-3) Mid-division, not fluent, mistake 2nd, rear and pushed along 4th, headway 9th, driven before 3 out, stayed on under pressure and close enough in 4th last, no extra flat, 4th of 9, 9l behind Sordid Secret (11-0) at Uttoxeter 3m 5yo nov hcp (4) gf in Jun.