A competitive turnout for an attractive purse although the presence of Balder Success does provide the handicap with a rather lop-sided appearance. Alan King's inmate was understandably uncompetitive before unseating in the Champion Hurdle behind Hurricane Fly and has generally found life tough as a second season hurdler. Despite the dramatic drop in grade, he has plenty on at these weights and COURT MINSTREL makes greater appeal. Evan Williams' charge has only had the three outings over timber but has contested good quality contests at Cheltenham twice and Sandown, winning once and far from disgraced when upped in grade subsequently. Two miles on good to soft suits admirably and 10-8 seems a perfectly satisfactory initial handicap mark. Hopefully he can overcome his relative lack of hurdling experience. Home Run is interesting but has done all his winning on much worse ground than he's due to face here and a larger threat may be Red Inca. He's on a good mark and travelled ominously well at Haydock recently when comfortably accounting for the well-supported Softsong.
Balder Succes (FR) 100-1 (11-10) Held up towards rear, losing touch when hampered and unseated rider just after 5th, in a race won by Hurricane Fly (11-10) at Cheltenham 2m hdl G1 (1) sft, 9 ran.
Ronaldo Des Mottes (FR) 50-1 (10-9) In touch, ridden before 2 out, weakend before last, 19th of 28, 36l behind Ted Veale (10-6) at Cheltenham 2m 1f hcp hdl G3 (1) gs.
Hi Note 20-1 (11-5) Tracked leaders, ridden 3 out, soon weakened, 9th of 11, well behind Fox Appeal (11-10) at Kempton 2m 5f hcp hdl (2) gs in Nov.
Act Of Kalanisi (IRE) 50-1 (10-10) Prominent, took keen hold, not fluent and bumped 1st, weakened approaching last, 9th of 23, 32l behind Salubrious (11-5) at Cheltenham 2m 4f Conditional Handicap Hurdle (0-145) (4yo+) (2) sft.
Constant Contact 66-1 (10-11) Tracked leaders, ridden after 2 out, beaten when badly hampered last, 6th of 23, 22l behind Salubrious (11-5) at Cheltenham 2m 4f Conditional Handicap Hurdle (0-145) (4yo+) (2) sft.
Court Minstrel (IRE) 5-1 (11-7) Held up last, good headway on inside before 3 out, went 3rd soon after 2 out, well held when blundered last, weakened to 4th flat, 4th of 7, 15l behind Melodic Rendezvous (11-7) at Sandown 2m nov hdl Grade 1 (1) hvy in Jan.
Home Run (GER) 3-1 (11-1) Tracked leaders, steadied after 2nd, closed 3 out, every chance when took off early, landed awkwardly and unseated rider 2 out, in a race won by In The Crowd (10-2) at Wincanton 2m Novice Handicap Hurdle (0-130) (4yo+) (3) gs in Feb, 6 ran.
Red Inca 8-1 (11-1) Chased leaders in 4th, went 3rd before 3 out, went 2nd and stumbled 2 out, led last, pushed along and came readily clear flat, won at Haydock 2m hcp hdl 0-140 (3) gs beating Softsong (11-5) by 1 3/4l, 8 ran.
Cloudy Bob (IRE) 7-1 (11-8) Made all, ridden before last, kept on, won at Warwick 2m hcp hdl 0-120 (4) hvy in Feb beating Specialagent Alfie (11-6) by 1 1/4l, 14 ran.
Darkestbeforedawn (IRE) 14-1 (11-4) Mid-division, headway to chase leaders halfway, effort 2 out, soon one pace, 4th of 10, 26l behind Kaylif Aramis (11-2) at Uttoxeter 2m 4f hcp hdl 0-135 (3) hvy.
Specialagent Alfie 12-1 (11-6) Held up behind, headway before 3 out, went 2nd and blundered last, kept on towards finish, 2nd of 14, 1 1/4l behind Cloudy Bob (11-8) at Warwick 2m hcp hdl 0-120 (4) hvy in Feb.
Stone Light (FR) 100-1 (11-0) Held up, always towards rear, tailed off, 18th of 19, well behind Quevega (11-5) at Cheltenham 2m 4f hdl G2 (1) sft.