Balder Succes has won five of his seven starts over the larger obstacles, including a Grade 1 at Aintree last time when Trifolium and Ted Veale were behind. He will be a threat to all here but we just prefer CHAMPAGNE FEVER. Willie Mullins' grey was a beaten favourite in the Champion Novice Hurdle at this meeting last year when finishing just behind Ted Veale but showed what he was capable of when just touched off by the rallying Western Warhorse in the Arkle at Cheltenham in March and should have too much pace for stablemate Felix Yonger, fourth in another Grade 1 over a longer trip at Cheltenham but beaten nine lengths by Trifolium at Leopardstown earlier. It's difficult to see any of the others getting involved, though Arnaud could complicate matters if he takes on the selection for the lead.
Arnaud (IRE) 5-1 (11-3) Led until approaching 5th, led again 6th, headed 8th, weakened last, 9th of 16, 20l behind Parsnip Pete (10-10) at Aintree 2m hcp chs G3 (1) gd in Apr.
Balder Succes (FR) 7-2 (11-4) Tracked leaders, not fluent 2nd, challenged after 3 out, led 2 out, driven clear flat, won at Aintree 2m nov chs G1 (1) gd in Apr beating Simply Ned (11-4) by 4l, 7 ran.
Champagne Fever (IRE) 11-4fav (11-4) With leader, led 2nd, driven before 2 out, ridden and hard pressed after last, kept on under pressure flat, headed post, 2nd of 9, hd behind Western Warhorse (11-4) at Cheltenham 2m nov chs G1 (1) gs in Mar.
Felix Yonger (IRE) 7-2fav (11-4) Held up behind, mistake 4 out, switched inside and headway under pressure after next, chased leading trio before 2 out, never able to challenge, held on for 4th flat, 4th of 12, 9l behind Taquin Du Seuil (11-4) at Cheltenham 2m 4f nov chs G1 (1) gd in Mar.
God's Own (IRE) 6-1 (11-0) Disputed close 3rd, hung left on bend after 7th, dropped to 4th at
Moscow Mannon (IRE) 9-2 (11-4) Chased leaders, outpaced after 4 out, bad mistake 3 out and soon behind, stayed on flat, went 4th post, no impression on leaders, 4th of 7, 15l behind Balder Succes (11-4) at Aintree 2m nov chs G1 (1) gd in Apr.
Ted Veale (IRE) 12-1 (11-4) Held up, hit 5th, jumped right and outpaced 7th, well beaten 4 out, 6th of 7, 21l behind Balder Succes (11-4) at Aintree 2m nov chs G1 (1) gd in Apr.
Trifolium (FR) 11-4fav (11-4) Tracked leader, not fluent 5th, challenging when mistake 4 out, led next, headed 2 out, lost 2nd last and stayed on same pace, 3rd of 7, 4 1/2l behind Balder Succes (11-4) at Aintree 2m nov chs G1 (1) gd in Apr.