Transact won this narrowly a year ago from Prince Tam but arrives badly out of form and the runner-up can turn the tables. Sleep In First has been heavily supported in his last three races and may have justified the confidence at Musselburgh last time but for falling. He must be thought capable of better while another last-time faller, Little Jimmy, was in the process of running his best race to date at Folkestone in December and has plenty of improvement in him. Or d'Oudairies has won once in 24 starts over fences despite slipping down the ratings and Vardas Supreme is still a maiden after 18 career starts. It's a long time since AVANOS ran but a chance is taken on his fitness as he scored over hurdles from this mark in July and ran well enough on his chasing debut a week later.
Or d'Oudairies (FR) 9-1 (10-6) Held up mid-division, soon chased leaders, went 3rd before 2 out, one pace, 3rd of 7, 5l behind Billy Cuckoo (11-5) at Sedgefield 2m 4f hcp chs 0-110 (4) hvy in Dec.
Prince Tam 7-1 (10-5) Led until 4th, soon led again, headed 2 out, no extra flat, 2nd of 6, 11l behind Saddle Pack (10-12) at Kelso 2m 1f hcp ch 0-110 (4) hvy in Jan.
Fightstar (FR) 16-1 (11-12) Held up towards rear, headway before 9th, led before 5 out, pecked 3 out, ridden and headed 2 out, no extra from last, 4th of 8, 10l behind Dingo Bay (10-7) at Newcastle 2m 4f hcp chs 0-95 (5) hvy in Jan.
Vardas Supreme (IRE) 8-1 (11-3) Tracked leaders, every chance before 4 out, ridden 2 out, kept on, 3rd of 8, 8l behind Dingo Bay (10-7) at Newcastle 2m 4f hcp chs 0-95 (5) hvy in Jan.
Avanos (FR) 3-1fav (9-13) Slowly away, behind, headway 10th, mistake next, chased leaders 4 out, stayed on same pace approaching last, 3rd of 13, 13l behind Ballybough Gorta (10-1) at Southwell 2m 4f hcp chs 0-105 (4) gd in Jul.
Transact (IRE) 11-2 (10-7) Tracked leaders, went 2nd 3rd, reminders after 5th and 6th, mistake 3 out, soon weakened, last of 4, well behind Sergeant Pink (10-12) at Ayr 2m hcp ch 0-110 (4) hvy in Jan.
Sleep In First (FR) 7-4fav (11-0) Tracked leader, led 6 out, going well and about 3 lengths when fell 4 out, in a race won by Silver Steel (11-5) at Musselburgh 2m hcp chs 0-95 (5) sft in Jan, 5 ran.
Little Jimmy 7-2 (10-13) Held up in touch, headway to 3rd approaching 11th, went 2nd 3 out, ridden and 2 lengths down when fell last, in a race won by Sulpius (12-0) at Folkestone 2m 5f nov hcp chs 0-95 (5) gd in Dec, 6 ran.