Ericht finally came good over hurdles at Fakenham but faces much stiffer opposition here. Southwell winner Imperial Leader wasn't disgraced behind Melodic Rendezvouz at Cheltenham last time and should appreciate the step back up in distance but the one to beat may be UXIZANDRE. He was most impressive when beating a couple of previous winners over the C&D last month and looks to be on an upward curve. Chiberta King, a useful stayer on the Flat, would be a danger to all if learning to jump but Next Sensation needs to improve on his third at Hereford to figure here and Professeur Emery is just as interesting as he will have needed his run at Kempton on Boxing Day.
Ericht (IRE) 4-6fav (10-4) Prominent, every chance 3 out, led next, shalken up last, ran on, eased near finish, readily, won at Fakenham 2m 4f NH mdn hdl (5) sft in Dec beating Liberty Court (11-0) by 3/4l, 10 ran.
Imperial Leader (IRE) 12-1 (11-4) Not fluent 1st, tracked clear leader, disputed lead after 2nd, ridden and every chance before last, kept on same pace flat, 4th of 8, 6l behind Melodic Rendezvous (10-12) at Cheltenham 2m 1f NH nov hdl 4-6yo (3) hvy in Dec.
Uxizandre (FR) 5-1 (10-12) Took keen hold early, tracked leaders on inside, pushed along to challenge 3 out, led approaching 2 out, clear and well in control when went left last, won at Newbury 2m 3f NH nov hdl 4-6yo (4) sft in Dec beating Drum Valley (11-5) by 7l, 12 ran.
Billing (IRE) 25-1 (10-12) Raced wide, in touch until lost place 5th, behind from 4 out, eased, tailed off, last of 12, well behind Uxizandre (10-12) at Newbury 2m 3f NH nov hdl 4-6yo (4) sft in Dec.
Brief Mark (IRE) 5-1 (11-7) Tr ldr in 2nd, 2l 2nd 3out, chall & ld 50 yrds out, so, won at Dawstown 3m ire ptp gd in May '09 beating Hurricane Bolt (11-7) by 1 1/2l, 13 ran.
Chiberta King 16-1 (10-12) Jumped badly left throughout, made most, jumped slowly 5th, headed after 7th, outpaced on outside 3 out, ridden and kept on same pace from next, no impression, 6th of 8, 23l behind Easter Day (11-3) at Ascot 2m 6f nh nov hdl (2) sft in Nov.
Dalavar (IRE) 33-1 (10-12) Mainly in rear, never a factor, 7th of 12, 29l behind Uxizandre (10-12) at Newbury 2m 3f NH nov hdl 4-6yo (4) sft in Dec.
Laidback Leo 66-1 (10-12) Mid-division, mistake 4th, weakened next, tailed off, 16th of 18, well behind Oscatara (10-9) at Bangor 2m 1f nov hdl (4) sft in Dec.
Next Sensation (IRE) 14-1 (10-12) Took keen hold, chased leaders, went 2nd after 7th, led 3 out, hit 2 out, ridden and headed soon after, no chance with winner, lost 2nd close home, 3rd of 11, 19l behind Sammys Gone (10-12) at Hereford 2m 6f nh nov hdl (4) hvy in Dec.
On The Record (IRE) 66-1 (11-0) Chased leader until soon after 3 out, ridden and weakened before next, 8th of 10, 46l behind Chatterbox (11-0) at Newbury 2m hdl (4) hvy in Dec.
Professeur Emery (FR) 20-1 (11-0) Led, headed before 2 out, soon weakened, 5th of 10, 33l behind River Maigue (11-0) at Kempton 2m nh nov hdl (2) hvy in Dec.
The Potting Shed (IRE) 33-1 (11-0) Held up towards rear, behind 7th, stayed on flat, never on terms, 8th of 12, 24l behind Many Clouds (11-0) at Ascot 2m 3f NH mdn hdl (3) sft in Nov.