MINELLA STARS was a little novicey at times on his hurdling debut but still came home more than three lengths ahead of Grey Wulff with the more experienced Railway Dillon a further head away in third. The latter has scored at Newcastle since but is unlikely to reverse Hereford running with Paul Nicholls' ex-pointer, who looks to have a bright future under Rules. Our Island was a winner between the flags in November and made a successful transition to hurdles when getting the better of Iron Chancellor over this trip at Ffos Las earlier in the month. He probably has more on his plate here but can't be discounted. Bless The Wings was just beaten over 2m4f at Wetherby on his reappearance but didn't build on that at Leicester next time, while Tricky Trickster is probably having a second prep race as he builds towards another tilt at the Grand National in April.
Minella Stars (IRE) 10-11fav (11-0) Held up in touch on outside, challenged 3 out, led after next, edged left flat, driven out, won at Hereford 2m 6f mdn hdl (5) hvy in Jan beating Grey Wulff (11-0) by 3 1/2l, 11 ran.
Our Island (IRE) 12-1 (11-0) Held up in touch, headway to lead approaching 4 out, strongly challenged 2 out, headed last, rallied, stayed on strongly to lead post, won at Ffos Las 3m mdn hdl (4) gs beating Iron Chancellor (11-0) by hd, 10 ran.
Railway Dillon (IRE) 11-4fav (10-12) Chased leaders, not fluent 4th, led after 4 out, pressed next, ridden before 2 out, soon clear, idled run-in and soon under pressure, hard ridden and found extra towards finish, won at Newcastle 2m 4f nov hdl (4) sft beating Fourjacks (10-12) by 1/2l, 16 ran.
Bitta Dash 150-1 (10-7) Mistake and unseated rider 2nd, in a race won by Quickbeam (11-12) at Stratford 2m 6f nh nov hdl (3) sft in Apr '08, 12 ran.
Bless The Wings (IRE) 9-1 (11-2) Held up in mid-division, headway 5th, ridden after 3 out, 4th and beaten when mistake last, weakened flat, 4th of 12, 12l behind Mic's Delight (11-8) at Leicester 2m 4f NH nov hdl (4-7yo) (4) hvy.
Russian Song (IRE) 25-1 (10-12) Mid-division, lost place approaching 6th, soon well behind, stayed on from 3 out, went 3rd flat, closing on 2nd close home, no chance with winner, 3rd of 10, 21l behind Join Together (10-12) at Chepstow 3m nov hdl (4) sft.
Tricky Trickster (IRE) 10-1 (11-12) Never travelling in rear, mistake and driven 11th, tailed off and pulled up before 4 out, in a race won by Midnight Chase (11-9) at Cheltenham 3m 3f Grade 3 hcp chs (4yo+) (1) gs in Nov, 17 ran.