Mitchell's Way is in a rich vein of form having won a jumpers' bumper before scoring over fences at Sedgefield and Carlisle. Rossini's Dancer won at Hexham and Aintree in the autumn and has his sights lowered again here while Categorical and Galway Jack are recent winners, though the latter was only fifth when Zaru chased home BADGER FOOT over track and trip in December. The runner-up is a couple of pounds better off today but that may not be enough to turn the tables on Lucinda Russell's gelding, who has proved much more consistent this season. He gets the vote though Diocles and You Know Yerself wouldn't be without a chance on their best form.
Zaru (FR) 3-1 (11-10) Tracked leading pair, mistake 8th, challenged 10th, led after 5 out, joined 2 out, soon ridden, headed narrowly between last 2, kept on, held flat, 2nd of 6, 2 1/2l behind Badger Foot (9-11) at Newcastle 2m 4f hcp chs 0-135 (3) sft in Dec.
Rossini's Dancer 25-1 (10-8) Tracked leaders, lost place after 10th, soon behind, stayed on to take moderate 3rd after 3 out, no chance with leaders, 3rd of 6, 22l behind No Planning (11-1) at Wetherby 2m 4f hcp chs 0-150 (2) hvy in Feb.
Galway Jack (IRE) 7-4fav (11-10) Made all, ridden before 2 out, pressed from last, all out, won at Southwell 2m 4f hcp chs 0-135 (3) sft beating Balzaccio (11-3) by 1 3/4l, 6 ran.
Mitchell's Way 9-2 (11-5) Tracked leaders, led 4 out, pressed last, ridden run-in, kept on towards finish, won at Carlisle 2m nov chs (3) gs beating Indian Voyage (10-12) by 1 1/4l, 6 ran.
Diocles (IRE) 9-4 (11-7) Held up in touch, dropped to rear 5th, ridden 13th, mistake next, soon weakened, pulled up 2 out, in a race won by Pinerolo (10-8) at Catterick 3m 1f nov hcp chs (0-125) (3) hvy in Feb, 5 ran.
Kealigolane (IRE) 22-1 (11-12) Led, blundered 7th, headed 10th, soon weakened, tailed off, pulled up, in a race won by Mister Philson (10-1) at Ayr 3m 1f hcp chs 0-130 (3) hvy, 6 ran.
You Know Yourself (IRE) 10-1 (11-3) Tracked leaders, led 2nd, headed before 10th, ridden before 3 out, weakened from next, 5th of 8, 12l behind Ballyoliver (11-3) at Carlisle 3m 2f hcp chs 0-130 (3) gs.
Categorical 3-1 (11-2) Led, mistake 9th, soon headed, led again 10th, headed 5 out, led again 4 out, stayed on strongly (1 fence ommited), won at Newcastle 2m 4f hcp chs 0-130 (3) sft beating Clondaw Flicka (11-7) by 11l, 4 ran.
Badger Foot (IRE) 7-2 (11-5) Tracked leaders in 3rd, went 2nd before 2 out, ridden before last, kept on and no impression with winner, 2nd of 3, 2 3/4l behind See Double You (11-4) at Ayr 2m 4f hcp ch 0-110 (4) hvy.