Howard Johnson's Akilak is not as good as he looked like being a couple of years ago and seems best watched off topweight here in a race taken to go to MISTER MARKER, who gets the vote over Bold Ransom. Keith Reveley's gelding has improved with each start this term and can race off the same mark as when a close second to Dancing Dik at Wetherby last month so he has solid claims on ground that suits but he may have to settle for minor honours behind the selection. Heez A Steel has shown progressive form in handicaps this season but has struggled back in novice hurdles in his last two starts and is likely to do so back in a handicap today off his new mark. Jim Goldie's Watercolours looks to be going the right way judged by his latest effort when chasing home Solway Ally at Ayr earlier this month and he has to be considered along with John Quinn's Spring Breeze, although he seems to be a shade high in the weights. The vote then goes the way of Mister Marker, who like a lot of runners from the stable of Nicky Richards seems to have shown improved form of late, and he can follow up his recent Carlisle success despite racing off an 8lb higher mark.
Akilak (IRE) 8-1 (10-5) Towards rear, not fluent 6th, headway and just about in touch 12th, weakened after 4 out, tailed off, 6th of 12, 39l behind The Sawyer (10-0) at Cheltenham 2m 5f hcp chs G3 (1) sft in Jan.
Heez A Steel (IRE) 13-2 (11-6) Mid-division, ridden after 4 out, disputing 4th, one pace when mistake next, kept on, no impression, 4th of 8, 6l behind Bygones Of Brid (10-12) at Newcastle 2m 6f nh nov hdl (2) gs in Nov.
Bold Ransom (IRE) 9-4fav (11-0) Led to after 1st, tracked leaders, lost place 9th, ridden, outpaced 3 out, rallied when mistake last, went 2nd flat, no impression, 2nd of 7, 4l behind Dancing Dik (11-0) at Wetherby 3m 1f hcp hdl 0-135 (3) sft in Feb.
Native Coral (IRE) 11-2 (11-9) Held up, headway when hit 5 out, soon ridden and outpaced, weakened next, 9th of 10, well behind My Arch (10-13) at Musselburgh 2m 4f hcp chs 0-125 (3) gs in Nov.
Dancing Dik 8-1 (11-1) Held up towards rear, hit 5th and reminders, hit next, weakened after 3 out, 7th of 12, 27l behind Fredo (10-11) at Haydock 3m 1f hcp hdl (2) sft in Feb.
Sphinx (FR) 12-1 (10-11) Held up towards rear, chased leaders after 4 out, weakened after 3 out, 6th of 12, 26l behind Fredo (10-11) at Haydock 3m 1f hcp hdl (2) sft in Feb.
Tot O'Whiskey 40-1 (9-9) Held up towards rear, jumped slowly 3rd, detached after 8th, tailed off when pulled up before 13th, in a race won by Wogan (10-2) at Doncaster 3m 2f hcp chs (2) gd, 14 ran.
Spring Breeze 9-2fav (10-3) Held up mid-division, pushed along approaching and lost place 4 out, 4th of 10, 21l behind Quentin Collonges (10-11) at Doncaster 3m hcp hdl 0-140 (2) gd.
Brackenmoss (IRE) 8-1 (11-9) Led, not fluent 7th, headed approaching 8th, quickly weakened, pulled up before 3 out, in a race won by Peters Star (10-13) at Catterick 3m 1f hcp hdl 0-120 (3) gs in Feb, 12 ran.
Quws Law (IRE) 22-1 (11-12) Chased leaders, took closer order approaching 7th, weakened from next, tailed off when pulled up before 3 out, in a race won by Tarabaloo (11-1) at Ayr 2m 5f hcp hdl 0-115 (4) gd in Feb, 15 ran.
Flake 12-1 (11-8) Chased leader until 7th, soon ridden, lost place 9th, soon struggling, 6th of 8, 49l behind Lease Lend (11-10) at Catterick 2m 3f hcp chs 0-135 (3) gs in Feb.
Mister Marker (IRE) 14-1 (11-3) In touch, led 2 out, driven out, won at Carlisle 2m 4f cond hcp hdl 0-1115 (4) gs beating Solway Ally (10-1) by 1 3/4l, 13 ran.
Star Player (IRE) 12-1 (11-7) Soon in mid-division, not fluent 5th, weakened approaching 8th, pulled up before 10th, in a race won by The Shy Man (11-4) at Bangor 3m hcp chs 0-120 (3) sft, 12 ran.
Minster Shadow 22-1 (10-12) Tracked leaders, mistake 13th, ridden and effort approaching 4 out, kept on same pace, 4th of 12, 10l behind Its Teescomponents (10-1) at Newcastle 3m hcp chs 0-130 (3) sft in Jan.
Watercolours (IRE) 11-4 (11-6) In rear, headway to track leaders 9th, ridden to chase winner approaching last, unable to quicken flat, 2nd of 8, 1 1/4l behind Solway Ally (10-7) at Ayr 3m nov hcp hdl 0-110 (4) gd.