He has plenty to prove but MR STRAFFAN may be worth siding with if the market emits any confidence; those with more obvious claims include Kateal, Markington and Tabaran. The selection is just out of the weights and has shown precious little in two starts under Rules but his dam is from a family of smart stayers and it would be no surprise to see him produce an improved effort now handicapping over a longer trip although the market will provide the best guide. If the money fails to arrive then you could do worse than side with Kateal who looks sure to progress again for this longer trip whilst Markington has plenty of form to his name in similar contests and his handicap mark is heading in the right direction. Tabaran hasn't been too harshly treated for an easy win last time but there must be some doubt as to whether he can build on that given that it was just the second success of his career. Gaspara is always worth a look but she's showed little zest this season whilst Merry Music and Bring It On Home are others that could feature in an open race where Mr Straffan is a very speculative selection.
Paddleyourowncanoe (IRE) 50-1 (11-10) Chased leaders, weakened approaching 5 out, pulled up before next, in a race won by Mill Side (11-7) at Doncaster 3m hcp chs 0-120 (3) gd in Dec, 11 ran.
Cold Mountain (IRE) 14-1 (11-7) Led, reminders 5th, headed 6th, remained close up, reminders again after 8th, outpaced 3 out, kept on from last, 3rd of 9, 12l behind BallyGalley Bob (11-2) at Towcester 2m 6f hcp chs 0-115 (4) gd in Oct.
Markington 10-1 (10-7) Held up towards rear, lost place from 7th, 6th of 7, well behind Templer (10-6) at Exeter 2m 7f hcp hdl 0-130 (3) gd in Oct.
Orion Express 33-1 (10-1) Held up in rear, jumped left 2nd, mistake 6th, struggling before 8th, 6th of 10, well behind Estates Recovery (10-0) at Exeter 2m 7f hcp hdl 0-130 (3) gd.
Tabaran (FR) 2-1fav (11-0) Held up in touch, led 8th, clear from 3 out, easily, won at Stratford 2m 6f sell hdl (5) sft in Mar beating Irish Legend (11-2) by 25l, 9 ran.
Stance 15-8 (11-6) Held up in touch, steady headway on inside from 7th, challenging going well 2 out, soon led, driven out flat, won at Fontwell 2m 6f sell hdl (5) gf in May beating Skipper's Lad (10-13) by 4l, 7 ran.
Gaspara (FR) 15-2 (11-9) Chased leader until weakened approaching 5th, soon struggling in rear, tailed off when eased before 2 out, 11th of 12, well behind Ciceron (11-2) at Wincanton 2m hcp hdl 0-120 (3) gd in Mar.
Intac (IRE) 15-2 (11-6) In touch, weakened 11th, behind when pulled up before 3 out, in a race won by Holmwood Legend (11-7) at Wincanton 2m 5f hcp chs 0-115 (4) gs in Mar, 9 ran.
Future Vision 15-2 (11-8) Held up towards rear, weakened from 3 out, pulled up, in a race won by Stick Together (10-9) at Market Rasen 2m 5f nov hcp hdl 0-110 (4) sft in Feb, 14 ran.
Kateal 8-1 (10-7) Led, mistake 3 out, soon narrowly headed, stayed challenging, 2 lengths 2nd and looked held when left in lead last, won at Taunton 2m 3f nh nov hdl (4) gs beating John's Gift (10-11) by 3l, 8 ran.
Marigolds Way 16-1 (11-1) Held up in rear, headway 8th, soon chasing leaders, under pressure 3 out, gradually faded, 7th of 14, 24l behind Quo Video (11-3) at Wincanton 2m 6f hcp hdl 0-110 (4) gf.
Paradise Regained (FR) 14-1 (11-12) Held up towards rear, mistake 7th, mistake 4 out, weakened after next, 7th of 9, well behind Sea Cadet (10-8) at Huntingdon 3m hcp chs 0-115 (4) gd in Nov.
Merry Music (IRE) 9-2fav (11-4) Held up in touch, ridden 3 out, no impression, 4th of 13, 18l behind Kahsabelle (11-6) at Hereford 2m 4f hcp hdl 0-95 (5) gs in Mar.
Bring It On Home 14-1 (11-2) Behind, ridden and struggling in rear 7th, stayed on approaching last, kept on into modest 4th flat, 4th of 12, 14l behind Flower Haven (10-6) at Chepstow 2m 4f hcp hdl 0-95 (5) gd.
Bubbs 8-1 (10-9) Tracked leaders, ridden 3 out, soon weakened, 14th of 18, well behind Captain Smoothy (10-3) at Exeter 2m 5f 4yo Am hcp 0-100 (4) sft in Dec.
Mr Straffan (IRE) 250-1 (10-11) In touch, under pressure 3 out, never on terms, 13th of 17, well behind Nice One Eric (11-0) at Wincanton 2m nh nov hdl (4) gs in Mar.
Captain Becket 25-1 (9-12) Chased leaders, pushed along and lost place approaching 9th, 13th of 16, 47l behind Elusive Muse (10-7) at Taunton 3m hcp hdl 0-115 (4) gs.