SANCTUAIRE won this last year, well ahead of the re-opposing Dan Breen, French Opera and Wishfull Thinking. With no Sprinter Sacre to contend with this time. Paul Nicholls' useful chaser can recapture the winning thread as he has the beating of Aintree winner Oiseau De Nuit on their run together at Cheltenham in January and, on a line through that one, looks to have the measure of Tanks For That. Stablemate Toubab has a bit to find at the weights while the jury is out on Finian's Rainbow, who has been a huge disappointment this season after last year's exploits. Novice Sire De Grugy did finish second in a Grade 2 at Cheltenham in November and has won at Lingfield and Stratford since but had his limitations exposed at Aintree at the start of the month.
Finian's Rainbow (IRE) 16-1 (11-10) Tracked leaders on inside, blundered 9th, headway to lead 12th, headed 4 out, no chance with front pair after next, lost moderate 3rd last, 4th of 6, 28l behind Sprinter Sacre (11-10) at Aintree 2m 4f chs G1 (1) gd.
Dan Breen (IRE) 33-1 (10-10) In touch, chased leader after 3 out to after next, soon weakened, 17th of 28, 33l behind Ted Veale (10-6) at Cheltenham 2m 1f hcp hdl G3 (1) gs in Mar.
French Opera 20-1 (11-11) In touch, lost place 2 out (usual 3 out), soon weakened, 8th of 23, 28l behind Alderwood (10-11) at Cheltenham 2m hcp chs G3 (1) sft in Mar.
Oiseau de Nuit (FR) 20-1 (11-8) Held up in touch, closed from 4 out, led and edged left soon after 2 out, ridden clear flat, ran on well, won at Aintree 2m hcp chs G3 (1) gd beating Tanks For That (11-9) by 5l, 17 ran.
Sanctuaire (FR) 20-1 (11-10) Led in start, held up in rear, struggling 9th disputed moderate 3rd before 3 out, kept on same pace, no chance with leading pair, 4th of 7, 28l behind Sprinter Sacre (11-10) at Cheltenham 2m chs G1 (1) gs in Mar.
Sire De Grugy (FR) 3-10fav (11-12) Tracked leaders in 3rd, went 2nd from 5th, led 7th, clear from 3 out, canter, won at Stratford 2m 1f nov chs (4) gd beating Gleann Eagas (10-12) by 27l, 4 ran.
Tanks For That (IRE) 20-1 (11-9) Tracked leaders, every chance after 2 out, stayed on flat, no impression on winner, 2nd of 17, 5l behind Oiseau de Nuit (11-8) at Aintree 2m hcp chs G3 (1) gd.
Tataniano (FR) 100-1 (11-10) Chased leaders, outpaced when left 3rd briefly 4 out, weakened before next, 5th of 7, 42l behind Sprinter Sacre (11-10) at Cheltenham 2m chs G1 (1) gs in Mar.
Toubab (FR) 12-1 (11-7) Mid-division, not fluent 5th, mistake next, never in contention, well beaten 3 out, 8th of 17, 35l behind Oiseau de Nuit (11-8) at Aintree 2m hcp chs G3 (1) gd.
Wishfull Thinking 25-1 (11-10) Held up in touch, went moderate 3rd after 4 out, kept on same pace, no chance with front pair, 3rd of 7, 25l behind Sprinter Sacre (11-10) at Cheltenham 2m chs G1 (1) gs in Mar.