State Benefit beat Relax when landing an amateurs' race at Sandown on his return from a lay-off. But he's not been the most consistent in the past and Pete The Feat is in the form of his life, notching up a four-timer in heavy ground at Lingfield last month. He's now 29lb higher than when his winning run began, however, and MARINGO BAY is just preferred as he's moving in the opposite direction. Down 10lb in the weights since this time last year, he had Imperial Circus behind when second in testing going at Chepstow three weeks ago and Charlie Mann's charge looks set for a return to winning ways. Rey Nacarado is another to consider as he's only 1lb higher than when winning last year's renewal and Tony McCoy is on board for the first time.
State Benefit (IRE) 7-1 (11-4) Soon tracked leaders, led before 2 out, stayed on towards finish, just held on, driven out, won at Sandown 3m Amateur Handicap Chase (0-130) (4yo+) (3) sft beating Brackloon High (11-7) by 1/2l, 10 ran.
Midnight Haze 16-1 (10-4) Held up towards rear, hit 9th, remote 10th after 3 out, pulled up before next, in a race won by Hello Bud (10-0) at Aintree 3m 2f Listed hcp chs (1) hvy, 16 ran.
Blackstaff (IRE) 9-1 (9-11) Held up in rear, not fluent 1st or 8th, fell 9th, in a race won by Little Josh (10-9) at Aintree 2m 5f hcp chs (2) hvy, 9 ran.
Pete The Feat (IRE) 6-5fav (11-7) Tracked leader, led 12th, 1 length advantage and staying on when left well clear 2 out, unchallenged after, won at Lingfield 3m hcp chs 0-115 (4) hvy in Nov beating Pensnett Bay (11-4) by well, 5 ran.
Imperial Circus (IRE) 3-1 (10-10) In touch, chased leading pair before 5 out, outpaced after next, rallied to chase winner last, tired flat, no impression when lost 2nd towards finish, 3rd of 5, 7l behind Mountainous (10-10) at Chepstow 3m beg chs (3) hvy.
Maringo Bay (IRE) 7-2 (11-1) Led narrowly, headed 6th, regained narrow lead after next, headed 3 out, soon ridden, 3rd and one pace last, stayed on to regain 2nd towards finish, 2nd of 5, 6l behind Mountainous (10-10) at Chepstow 3m beg chs (3) hvy.
Relax (FR) 6-1 (11-6) Tracked leader, led 2nd, headed 10th, mistake 3 out, weakened before and hit last, 5th of 10, 11l behind State Benefit (11-4) at Sandown 3m Amateur Handicap Chase (0-130) (4yo+) (3) sft.
Rey Nacarado (IRE) 3-1fav (11-4) Raced keenly, in touch on inside, effort and every chance 4 out to 2 out, soon ridden and no impression with leading pair, lost 3rd flat, 4th of 12, 9l behind Ballyoliver (11-5) at Newbury 3m 2f am hcp chs 0-125 (3) gs.
Mark The Book (IRE) 17-2 (9-8) Led, pecked and headed soon after 5 out, weakened next, 6th of 7, well behind Sona Sasta (9-11) at Chepstow 3m hcp chs 0-145 (2) hvy.