HE'S COOL is taken to follow up his win at Wolverhampton at the expense of Saute and Ionisphere. The selection has been raised by 9lbs for that success but it looks significant that connections opted to take their time and not run him under a penalty. He had shown improved form over hurdles prior to that and should be kept on side. Saute is unexposed and a 4lb rise for his twelve furlong win at Kempton may underestimate him. His ability to stay this far has to be taken on trust but he shapes as though he'll last home and can make his presence felt. Ionisphere's presence on the short-list is more speculative but the booking of Shane Kelly takes the eye for this gelding who begins his handicap career on a plater's mark. He was last seen winning a point in September and could well be a mover in the market which should be formed by the likes of They All Laughed and Sark who can boast more obvious credentials. Ionisphere still has it to prove though so the vote goes the way of He's Cool.
Dart 16-1 (8-9) Held up, outpaced over 2f out, soon weakened, 4th of 6, 23l behind Blue Nymph (9-3) at Southwell 1m 6f hcp 0-85 (4) fbs in Oct.
He's Cool (IRE) 10-1 (9-1) Tracked leaders, led going well over 2f out, ridden clear inside last, eased near finish, won at Wolverhampton 2m hcp 0-60 (6) pol in Oct beating Wester Lodge (9-3) by 5l, 13 ran.
Montiyra (IRE) 14-1 (9-5) Tracked leaders, 5th over 4f out, weakened from under 3f out, eased straight, tailed off, 9th of 10, 44l behind Common Charisma (9-0) at Galway 1m 4f 3yo mdn gd in Aug '07.
They All Laughed 20-1 (9-6) Held up towards rear, ridden and headway over 2f out, kept on same pace final furlong, 3rd of 10, 4 1/2l behind Jackday (9-8) at Catterick 2m hcp 0-60 (6) gd in Oct.
Little Sark (IRE) 8-1 (9-2) Chased leaders, pushed along over 3f out, every chance 2f out, kept on inside final furlong, 2nd of 13, 3/4l behind Silent Act (9-3) at Kempton 1m 4f hcp (0-65) (6) pol in Oct.
Saute 16-1 (8-12) Led after 2f, made rest, hard ridden final furlong, kept on gamely, won at Kempton 1m 4f hcp 0-60 (6) pol in Oct beating Carter (9-1) by 1 1/4l, 11 ran.
Spiritonthemount (USA) 6-1 (8-9) In rear, driven after 7f, no danger after, last of 13, 50l behind Bijou Dan (9-12) at Catterick 2m hcp 0-65 (6) gf in May.
Penolva (IRE) 10-1 (9-0) Chased leaders, 5th approaching halfway, ridden and one pace straight, 6th of 14, 8l behind Chapter Nine (9-5) at Dundalk 1m 3f 3yo mdn stks pol in Oct.
Ionisphere 50-1 (9-5) Never a factor, 12th of 14, 27l behind Gentle On My Mind (9-0) at Leopardstown 1m 4f mdn stks gf in Jul '08.
Stagecoach Emerald 40-1 (8-2) In touch, pushed along over 5f out, struggling 3f out, 10th of 13, 5l behind Ja One (9-0) at Lingfield 2m hcp (0-65) (6) pol in Oct.
Special Chapter (IRE) 10-1 (9-2) In touch, ridden over 2f out, one pace from over 1f out, 7th of 15, 7l behind Clovis (9-12) at Bath 1m 4f 3yo & 4yo sll (6) gd in Aug.
Dimashq 7-1 (9-3) Held up, led over 2f out, headed over 1f out, soon weakened, 9th of 12, 22l behind Beat The Shower (8-8) at Catterick 1m 4f hcp 0-60 (6) sft in Oct.
Sir Jake 50-1 (8-2) Slowly into stride, in rear, behind when virtually pulled up from 5f out, last of 11, well behind Gandalf (9-2) at Kempton 2m hacp 0-70 (5) pol in Sep.
Astroleo 20-1 (8-0) Chased leaders, driven along on outside 2f out, stayed on same pace final furlong, 5th of 13, 3 1/2l behind Ja One (9-0) at Lingfield 2m hcp (0-65) (6) pol in Oct.