A disappointing turnout for the Grade 1 and OSCAR WHISKY should comfortably beat his two rivals. Though jumping fences late in life, Nicky Henderson's classy nine-year-old has taken well to the larger obstacles and did well to hold off the well-regarded Taquin De Seuil in a Grade 2 at Cheltenham on his latest start. Benvolio is on a hat-trick and progressing but he's not come up against anything of the caliber of the selection before. Manyriverstocross had his limitations exposed at this level over 2m here in December and, on a line through Taquin De Seuil, looks well held.
Benvolio (IRE) 11-8fav (11-4) With leader, led 2nd, pushed along and pressed from 4 out, kept on gamely from last, held on well towards finish, won at Haydock 2m 5f grd chs (5yo+) (2) hvy in Jan beating Maggio (11-0) by 1l, 5 ran.
Manyriverstocross (IRE) 14-1 (11-2) Held up in last pair, mistake 8th, never on terms, last of 6, 31l behind Hinterland (11-2) at Sandown 2m nov chs Grade 1 (4yo+) (1) gd in Dec.
Oscar Whisky (IRE) 5-6fav (11-7) Tracked leader, challenged 7th, led 9th, headed after next, led before last, driven and stayed on well flat, always holding rival, won at Cheltenham 2m 5f nov chs G2 (1) sft in Jan beating Taquin Du Seuil (11-7) by 3/4l, 4 ran.