Monsieur Jordan looks the clear pick of Tim Easterby's two runners in the opener ahead of Gwyre but he is likely to struggle under his penalty and a better bet may be MASTER FONG. Don McCain's gelding was capable on the flat and made a pleasing debut over timber when a close fourth behind Peter Grimes in a soft ground maiden hurdle at Bangor earlier this month; any further improvement for that run will make Master Fong hard to beat. Howard Johnson's First Bay was nothing out of the ordinary on the flat and looks nothing special over hurdles judged by his first start at Wetherby but the yard's runners are in good form. Brian Ellison saddles two runners with Lakeman, who has disappointed over hurdles so far, probably best watched and Venture Capitalist looking the more likely to challenge the selection on his hurdling debut. George Moore's Veronica's Boy is held by Monsieur Jordan on running at Newcastle last month and the safest option looks to be Master Fong.
Monsieur Jourdain (IRE) 5-2fav (10-12) Led, headed 3rd, led again 2 out, driven out, won at Newcastle 2m 3yo nov hdl (4) gd in Oct beating Shifting Gold (10-5) by 2 1/4l, 15 ran.
First Bay (IRE) 7-2 (10-12) Led, hit 4 out, headed approaching 2 out, one pace, 3rd of 9, 6l behind Trumpstoo (10-12) at Wetherby 2m 3yo mdn hdl (5) gf in Oct.
Hydrant 33-1 (10-12) Chased leaders who went clear after 3rd, weakened approaching 3 out, mistake 2 out, 5th of 8, 42l behind Helieorbea (10-12) at Haydock 2m 3yo nov hdl (4) gd in Oct.
Lakeman (IRE) 20-1 (10-12) Towards rear, mistake 4th, outpaced 3 out, never dangerous, 9th of 13, well behind Sergeant Pink (10-12) at Market Rasen 2m 1f 3yo nov hdl (4) sft.
Master Fong (IRE) 4-1 (10-12) Tracked leader, led approaching 2 out, upsides when blundered 2 out, jumped right and no extra from last, 3rd of 6, 5l behind Peter Grimes (10-12) at Bangor 2m 1f 3yo mdn hdl (4) sft.
Royal Premium 25-1 (10-12) Behind, weakened from 4th, 4th of 6, well behind Kudu Country (10-12) at Haydock 2m 3yo nov hdl (3) hvy.
Venture Capitalist 7-4fav (9-3) Chased leading pair throughout, hard ridden and edging left 2f out, no impression, 3rd of 8, 12l behind Sounds Of Jupiter (9-2) at Brighton 1m 4f hcp 0-70 (5) fm in Aug (flat).
Veronicas Boy 11-1 (10-12) Held up towards rear, headway 3 out, kept on from next, 4th of 15, 12l behind Monsieur Jourdain (10-12) at Newcastle 2m 3yo nov hdl (4) gd in Oct.
Gwyre (IRE) 100-1 (10-5) Towards rear, outpaced after 4 out, 8th of 15, 20l behind Monsieur Jourdain (10-12) at Newcastle 2m 3yo nov hdl (4) gd in Oct.
Toujours Souriante 8-1 (7-9) In touch, lost place well over 2f out, 9th of 12, 11l behind Oasis Knight (8-7) at Newbury 1m 5f hcp 0-90 (3) gf in Aug (flat).