Alan King will be delighted that Big Buck's is an absentee here as it gives his Karabak a chance to land one of these big staying events. Runner-up to Paul Nicholls' champion in the re-routed Long Walk at Newbury, he couldn't live with the pace in the World Hurdle at Cheltenham and could only finish fourth with today's rival Powerstation half-a-length in front. The latter doesn't appear to have the scope of Karabak who will obviously be fancied though Willie Mullins has a trio of entries waiting to mug him. While Cousin Vinny was a long way behind at Cheltenham and hasn't proved himself, MOURAD and Quevega are in the form of their lives with the former's very impressive success at Fairyhouse just looking better than the mare's second successive victory in the David Nicholson at The Festival.
Aitmatov (GER) 10-1 (11-8) Tracked leaders in 2nd, outpaced 5 out, moderate 4th and no impression from next, 4th of 6, 30l behind Mourad (11-3) at Fairyhouse 2m 4f hdl Gr3 hvy.
Bensalem (IRE) 6-1 (10-11) Mistake 1st, held up behind, headway 15th, close up 5th and every chance when fell 2 out, in a race won by Chief Dan George (10-10) at Cheltenham 3m hcp chs G3 (1) gs in Mar, 24 ran.
Berties Dream (IRE) 33-1 (11-7) In touch, steadied into mid-division 5th, headway 3 out, ridden when not fluent 2 out, led and edged right when hit last, drifted right flat, driven out, stayed on well, won at Cheltenham 3m nov hdl Grade 1 (1) gd in Mar beating Najaf (11-7) by 6l, 19 ran.
Cousin Vinny (IRE) 11-10fav (11-12) Tracked leaders in 3rd, 4th and ridden 2 out, improved into close 2nd and challenged last, led early run-in, kept on well under pressure, won at Fairyhouse 2m hdl hvy beating Head Of The Posse (11-12) by 2 1/2l, 4 ran.
Jessies Dream (IRE) 2-1fav (11-5) Tracked leaders in 4th, ridden in 4th 3 out, close enough after 2 out, no extra on winner before last, kept on same pace run-in, 3rd of 5, 7l behind Roberto Goldback (11-5) at Leopardstown 2m 5f nov chs Grd 2 hvy in Jan.
Karabak (FR) 15-2 (11-10) Held up in mid-division, headway 3 out, effort on inside over 2 out, soon ridden and one pace, stayed on under pressure flat, no impression, 4th of 14, 15l behind Big Buck's (11-10) at Cheltenham 3m hdl G1 (1) gs in Mar.
Kayf Aramis 25-1 (11-7) Led, headed 2nd, remained close up, led again 8th, headed approaching 3 out, weakened 2 out, 5th of 7, 17l behind Big Buck's (11-7) at Aintree 3m hdl G1 (1) gd.
Ninetieth Minute (IRE) 6-1 (11-6) Attempted to make all, swished tail from halfway, edged clear 5 out, ridden and strongly pressed from 3 out, headed after 2 out, kept on same pace, 3rd of 6, 13l behind Mourad (11-3) at Fairyhouse 2m 4f hdl Gr3 hvy.
Noble Prince (GER) 11-1 (11-3) Prominent main group, hampered 2 out, driven to chase leaders, between last 2, kept on flat, 5th of 28, 6l behind Thousand Stars (10-5) at Cheltenham 2m 1f hcp hdl G3 (1) gd in Mar.
Oscar Dan Dan (IRE) 80-1 (11-10) Held up towards rear on outside, outpaced 3 out, ridden and stayed on under pressure approaching last, never troubled leaders, 6th of 14, 18l behind Big Buck's (11-10) at Cheltenham 3m hdl G1 (1) gs in Mar.
Powerstation (IRE) 33-1 (11-10) Mid-division, headway on outside approaching 2 out, ridden and stayed on to go 3rd before last, no impression on leading pair, 3rd of 14, 14l behind Big Buck's (11-10) at Cheltenham 3m hdl G1 (1) gs in Mar.
Prince Erik Evensfav (11-7) Tracked leaders in 3rd, mistake and dropped to 4th 3 out, soon ridden, 3rd approaching 2 out, 2nd before last, kept on same pace, 2nd of 4, 4 1/2l behind Boulavogue (11-10) at Fairyhouse 3m hdl hvy.
War Of Attrition (IRE) 20-1 (11-10) Led, headed narrowly 3 out, ridden and outpaced after next, lost place between last 2, soon weakened, eased approaching last, 12th of 14, well behind Big Buck's (11-10) at Cheltenham 3m hdl G1 (1) gs in Mar.
Mourad (IRE) 5-2 (11-3) Held up in touch, progress into moderate 3rd 5 out, 2nd next, closer 3rd 3 out, ridden to lead after 2 out, soon asserted, not extended from last, very easily, won at Fairyhouse 2m 4f hdl Gr3 hvy beating Donnas Palm (11-8) by 12l, 6 ran.
Quevega (FR) 6-4fav (11-5) Mid-division, headway after 7th, challenged 2 out, led approaching last, quickened clear flat, ran on strongly, won at Cheltenham 2m 4f hdl G2 (1) gs in Mar beating Carole's Legacy (11-0) by 4 1/2l, 17 ran.