Express Leader looks the pick of Paul Nicholls' pair today, despite failing to justify favouritism at Exeter last month, as Tigre D'Aron was behind when Pavillon Bleu was just touched off by Carrickmines over C&D 10 days ago. Philip Hobbs also runs Lord Crewe, who won on his reappearance at Exeter in November, while Chain Of Command should improve for his second at Stratford in October. FOX APPEAL was put up 8lb after just scraping home over C&D last month but Emma Lavelle's charge is still heading in the right direction and useful claimer Stephen O'Donovan again takes off 7lb. The top weight can score again with Makhzoon now visored after disappointing at Chepstow.
Fox Appeal (IRE) 10-1 (11-2) Held up in rear, took keen hold, headway after 7th, challenged last, ran on to lead post, won at Taunton 3m hcp hdl 0-125 (3) gs in Dec beating Benbens (10-8) by shd, 11 ran.
Chain Of Command (IRE) 10-1 (11-10) Held up in rear, not fluent 4th and next, headway after 3 out, chased winner approaching 2 out, no impression, 2nd of 8, 7l behind Grandads Horse (11-5) at Stratford 2m 3f hcp hdl 0-130 (3) gf in Oct.
Makhzoon (USA) 16-1 (10-8) Held up, jumped right and bumped 4th, ridden after 8th, weakened approaching 4 out, 6th of 8, 22l behind Palace Jester (11-3) at Chepstow 3m hcp hdl 0-135 (3) hvy in Dec.
Tigre D'aron (FR) 4-1 (11-12) Held up in rear, took keen hold, not fluent 4th, effort after 3 out, not fluent 2 out, no impression, no extra last, 5th of 10, 12l behind Carrickmines (11-3) at Taunton 3m hcp hdl 0-120 (4) gs.
Patsy Finnegan 33-1 (11-4) Always towards rear, never on terms, tailed off, 14th of 18, well behind Our Father (11-11) at Ascot 2m 6f hcp hdl 0-130 (3) sft in Dec.
Pavillon Bleu (FR) 25-1 (11-10) Pressed leader, not fluent 1st or 2nd, led 4th, headed after next, ridden 3 out, switched right and challenged last, led flat, headed post, 2nd of 10, ns behind Carrickmines (11-3) at Taunton 3m hcp hdl 0-120 (4) gs.
Express Leader 9-4fav (10-13) Held up towards rear, chased leaders and blundered 3 out, in 3rd and held when mistake last, soon weakened, 5th of 7, 17l behind Highway Code (11-8) at Exeter 2m 1f hcp hdl 0-130 (3) hvy in Dec.
Prince Of Denial (IRE) 16-1 (11-10) Held up, ridden 3 out, never on terms, 5th of 9, 11l behind River Dragon (10-1) at Market Rasen 2m 3f hcp hdl 0-120 (4) sft in Dec.
Right Option (IRE) 7-1 (11-2) Chased leader who went clear 2nd until 6th, led 7th until 3 out, beaten last, no extra, 3rd of 10, 16l behind Estates Recovery (10-0) at Exeter 2m 7f hcp hdl 0-130 (3) gd in Apr '10.
Lord Crewe (IRE) 11-2fav (11-1) Chased leaders, pushed along approaching 4 out, went 2nd 2 out, ridden to lead approaching last, stayed on well flat, driven out, won at Exeter 2m 7f hcp hdl 0-115 (4) gs in Nov beating Sapphire Rouge (10-13) by 2 1/2l, 13 ran.