Eastlake won this last year but subsequent exploits means that he lines up this season off a 23lb higher mark. Rebel Rebellion won the Grand Sefton at Aintree last time but may not be as effective back on a conventional track and over a shorter trip while Kumbeshwar turned in a shocker at Cheltenham last week behind Wishfull Thinking. Desert Cry beat GREY GOLD by seven lengths at Wetherby last month with Filbert fourth and Oscar Hill last of the eight finishers. The runner-up is 8lb better off here and can turn the tables and gain a deserved first success of the season as Pepite Rose is probably high enough in the weights now.
Eastlake (IRE) 5-1fav (11-0) Held up, headway on inside from 9th, mistake 3 out, challenged last, led and edged right flat, driven out, won at Cheltenham 2m hcp chs (2) gd in Dec beating French Opera (11-10) by 1l, 11 ran.
Desert Cry (IRE) 8-1 (11-6) Held up in last pair, headway on outside 6th, challenged 4 out, upsides when went left next, led 2 out, 3 lengths clear when went left again last, ridden out flat, won at Wetherby 2m hcp chs 0-145 (2) sft in Jan beating Grey Gold (11-5) by 7l, 9 ran.
Pepite Rose (FR) 7-1 (10-11) Held up in last pair, steady headway on outside 10th, went 3rd 12th, challenging for well held 2nd after 4 out until 3 out, ridden and weakened approaching 2 out, lost poor 3rd in closing stages, 4th of 6, 34l behind Captain Chris (11-10) at Kempton 2m 4f lst chs (1) sft in Jan.
Rebel Rebellion (IRE) 16-1 (11-11) Held up, not fluent 2nd, headway next, challenged last, driven 2 lengths ahead after elbow, all out, won at Aintree 2m 5f hcp chs (2) sft in Dec beating Your Busy (10-11) by 1/2l, 16 ran.
Oscar Hill (IRE) 8-1 (11-4) Led, clear after 4th, went right 7th, blundered badly and reduced advantage next, headed approaching 4 out, weakened from next, 8th of 9, 38l behind Desert Cry (11-6) at Wetherby 2m hcp chs 0-145 (2) sft in Jan.
Kumbeshwar 16-1 (10-13) With leaders, led narrowly 3rd, headed before 2 out, weakened before last, 9th of 10, well behind Wishfull Thinking (11-12) at Cheltenham 2m 5f hcp chs G3 (1) hvy in Jan.
Grey Gold (IRE) 4-1fav (11-5) Tracked leader, close up 8th, led narrowly approaching 4 out, headed 2 out, soon ridden, kept on same pace, 2nd of 9, 7l behind Desert Cry (11-6) at Wetherby 2m hcp chs 0-145 (2) sft in Jan.
Filbert (IRE) 6-1 (11-2) Mid-division, headway 4 out, chased leading pair when mistake 2 out, soon no impression, lost 3rd last, 4th of 9, 10l behind Desert Cry (11-6) at Wetherby 2m hcp chs 0-145 (2) sft in Jan.