Dashing George makes a swift reappearance after finishing fourth at Leicester on Wednesday and faces stronger opposition here. Gwanako's runs last year were confined to hunter chases and he hasn't been seen since disappointing at Newton Abbot in May while this may be tough for Tail of The Bank and an insufficient test of stamina for Double Dizzy. Mad Max has been well beaten in all recent starts but Pigeon Island is well enough treated if fully wound-up for his first outing since finishing second in the Bobby Renton at Wetherby in October. PLEIN POUVOIR doesn't always find a lot off the bridle but the ground here won't be a problem and he could pick these off if Aidan Coleman can time his challenge to perfection.
Mad Max (IRE) 16-1 (11-4) Disputed 2nd behind clear leader, close up 7th, lost place 2 out (usual 3 out), soon beaten, 4th of 7, 28l behind William's Wishes (10-6) at Ascot 2m 1f hcp chs (2) hvy in Nov.
Gwanako (FR) 4-6fav (12-2) Held up, effort after 4 out, soon ridden, no impression, weakened 2 out, 4th of 5, 35l behind Louis Pasteur (10-4) at Newton Abbot 2m 5f hcp hts chs (4) gd in May.
Pigeon Island 7-1 (11-8) Always prominent, left 2nd briefly 3rd, headway to lead narrowly approaching 4 out, ridden last, kept on until headed and not pace of winner final 50 yards, 2nd of 12, 2 1/4l behind Alvarado (11-9) at Wetherby 2m 4f hcp chs 0-135 (3) gs in Oct.
Tail of The Bank (IRE) 11-1 (11-1) Held up towards rear, headway after 8th, weakened from 4 out, 4th of 9, 39l behind Carrickboy (10-12) at Chepstow 2m 3f hcp chs (2) hvy in Jan.
Plein Pouvoir (FR) 6-1 (10-7) Chased clear leaders, dropped to mid-division 9th, outpaced 5 out, soon weakened, tailed off, 6th of 10, well behind Big Fella Thanks (11-12) at Wincanton 2m 5f hcp chs 0-145 (2) sft in Jan.
Dashing George (IRE) 8-1 (10-11) Pressed leader, led after 7th, headed 2 out, weakened last, 4th of 7, 23l behind Buddy Bolero (11-3) at Leicester 2m 7f hcp chs 0-140 (3) hvy in Jan.
Double Dizzy 12-1 (11-8) Close up, pushed along before 16th, went 3rd from 2 out, one pace, 3rd of 12, 35l behind Well Refreshed (11-1) at Plumpton 3m 5f hcp chs 0-130 (3) sft in Jan.