EXECUTIVE'S HALL reeled off a hat-trick over hurdles following a lay-off at this time last year and clearly goes well fresh. Though this track hasn't always brought out the best in him in the past, he has plenty of scope for improvement over fences and can open his account today. Sam Patch probably needs further but is edging closer to that elusive first win over the larger obstacles and preferred to Riskier, who may need this, and recent Towcester second Middlebrook. Pugnacity has been struggling for form while Sheepsclose and Barr Head are usually worth opposing but Sonic Anthem ended a four-year losing run at Southwell recently and that will have done wonders for his confidence.
Sonic Anthem (USA) 66-1 (11-2) Made virtually all, clear when not fluent 2 out, stayed on, won at Southwell 2m 4f hcp chs 0-95 (5) gd beating Mr Goofy (11-6) by 6l, 11 ran.
Executive's Hall (IRE) 9-2 (11-5) Held up, headway after 3rd, went 2nd 7th until before 3 out, soon hung left and weakened, 5th of 6, 24l behind Peedeeque (11-12) at Doncaster 2m 3f nov hcp hdl 0-100 (5) gf in Nov.
Riskier 3-1 (11-5) Led, 5 lengths clear when hit 2 out, soon ridden, headed close home, 2nd of 13, nk behind Sycho Fred (10-3) at Sedgefield 2m 4f hcp chs 0-95 (5) gs in Dec.
Middlebrook (IRE) 20-1 (10-10) Tracked leader until 8th, pecked 5th, outpaced 4 out, kept on from last, went 2nd close home, no chance with winner, 2nd of 6, 10l behind Opera Og (10-13) at Towcester 2m nov hcp chs 0-100 (5) sft.
Pugnacity 20-1 (9-11) Mid-division, ridden and weakened 3 out, 8th of 11, well behind Natural Spring (11-8) at Market Rasen 2m 5f hcp hdl 0-115 (4) gd.
Sheepclose (IRE) 40-1 (10-7) Led, jumped right 1st, hit 8th, headed 10th, quickly weakened after 5 out, pulled up before 4 out, in a race won by Degas Art (11-8) at Carlisle 2m 4f nov chs (3) gd in Apr, 5 ran.
Sam Patch 5-1 (10-8) Held up, headway 6th, outpaced 15th, left 2nd after 2 out, stayed on same pace, no impression, 2nd of 10, 7l behind Tipsy Dara (11-2) at Hexham 3m 1f hcp chs 0-95 (5) hvy in Apr.
Barr Head (IRE) 13-2 (11-0) Tracked leader, not fluent 5th, with leader 12th, ridden before 2 out, weakened before last, 3rd of 5, 32l behind Willie Hall (11-0) at Sedgefield 2m 4f beg chase (5) gd in Mar.
Why Are You Asking (IRE) 10-1 (10-0) Held up towards rear, blundered 7th, weakened from 9th, tailed off and pulled up before 3 out, in a race won by Blazin White Face (11-12) at Perth 2m 4f hcp 0-100 (5) gd, 11 ran.
Claresburn 66-1 (9-7) Close up and keen, weakened before 10th, tailed off and pulled up before 3 out, in a race won by Blazin White Face (11-12) at Perth 2m 4f hcp 0-100 (5) gd, 11 ran.
Samson Collonges (FR) 4-1 (9-11) Held up in rear, jumped slightly left and bumped 3rd, headway approaching 11th, went left and outpaced 13th, again jumped left 4 out, soon weakened, tailed off, 4th of 9, 43l behind Roi De Garde (9-7) at Market Rasen 3m 1f hcp chs 0-100 (5) gs.