Sonofvic won both starts over hurdles last season and has already scored between the flags. He should prove even better now tackling fences but is thrown in at the deep end here against GRAND CRUS. Easily the second-best staying hurdler last season behind Big Bucks, David Pipe's grey made a seamless transition to fences at Cheltenham and the step up in distance should see him in an even better light. Viking Blond beat Alfie Spinner at Chepstow last month but the latter is better off at the weights here and there shouldn't be much to choose between the pair today, though both are likely to struggle to match strides with the selection.
Grands Crus (FR) 6-4fav (11-2) Held up in rear, closed 6th, led 12th, came up long, mistake and headed 4 out, led again on bit before next, shaken up when 3 lengths ahead last, stayed on strongly flat, easily, won at Cheltenham 2m 4f nov chs (2) gd beating Champion Court (11-7) by 10l, 7 ran.
Viking Blond (FR) 6-1 (11-4) Pressed leader, led 3rd, ridden approaching 3 out, joined 2 out, headed last, no extra towards finish, 4th of 6, 4 1/2l behind Join Together (10-13) at Cheltenham 3m nov chs (2) gs.
Alfie Spinner (IRE) 11-4 (11-4) Held up in 5th, closed 13th, chased winner after 5 out, stayed on, always behind held, 2nd of 7, 4 1/2l behind Viking Blond (11-4) at Chepstow 3m nov chs (4) gs in Oct.
Sonofvic (IRE) 3-1 (11-5) Held up in 5th, headway to 3rd 4 out, ridden and went 2nd well before 2 out, challenged from 2 out, upsides last, led soon after, stayed on well, driven out, won at Ascot 2m 3f nov hdl (2) sft in Feb beating Tornado Bob (11-8) by 2l, 8 ran.