A potentially decent contest made even more intriguing by the presence of Ruby Walsh on board Benefficient for Tony Martin. He rode the six-year-old to an impressive success at Navan last time and the 5lb he receives from PICKAPOCKETORTWO may have swayed him. However, the latter has been ridden by Patrick Mullins in all of his nine races to date and the form of his latest success at Thurles could hardly have worked out better as his three opponents that day have all won subsequently. He gets the nod though Star Neuville looked a smart performer when defeating Mullins' odds-on Vesper Bell at Leopardstown and is very much on the upgrade. Folsom Blue is another going places and though attempting this trip for the first time under Rules should have no problems staying while Castle Wings ploughed through the Limerick mud for a very impressive success last time and is another to consider.
Pickapocketortwo (IRE) 4-1 (11-10) Tracked leader in 3rd, took keen hold, went 2nd before halfway, led 2 out, slight mistake last, ridden and edged right run-in, kept on best when challenged, won at Thurles 2m 6f nov hdl sft in Nov beating Ipsos Du Berlais (11-10) by 1/2l, 4 ran.
Archie Meade (IRE) 4-1 (11-4) Waited with, closed up 6th, soon tracked leaders, challenged and on terms 2 out, led approaching last where not fluent, stayed on well run-in, won at Thurles 2m 6f mdn hdl hvy in Dec beating Jack Bene (11-4) by 2 1/4l, 9 ran.
Benefficient (IRE) 7-2 (11-12) Made all, challenged 3 out, asserted before last, pushed out briefly run-in, easily, won at Navan 2m 4f mdn hdl hvy in Dec beating Knockgraffon King (11-12) by 8l, 10 ran.
Castle Wings (IRE) 15-8fav (11-9) Prominent, keen hold, on terms 3 out, soon led and went on from before straight, slight mistake 2 out, stayed on well, comfortably, won at Limerick 2m 6f mdn hdl hvy in Dec beating Noble Pageant (11-12) by 12l, 12 ran.
Star Neuville (FR) 5-2 (11-5) Made all, ridden to assert approaching last, kept on under pressure run-in, won at Leopardstown 2m 4f mdn hdl sft in Dec beating Vesper Bell (11-12) by 2l, 8 ran.
Firebird Flyer (IRE) 9-4fav (10-8) Led early, prominent, led after 3 out, joined from before next where not fluent, gained advantage from before last where good jump, stayed on well run-in, won at Tramore 2m 5f mdn hdl hvy beating Mazuri Cowboy (10-13) by 1 1/2l, 11 ran.
Folsom Blue (IRE) 2-5fav (11-0) Tracked leader, mistake 6 out, led before 2 out, soon pressed, stayed on best to assert run-in, won at Limerick 2m 4yo mdn hdl hvy in Dec beating Essexbridge (11-7) by 2 1/2l, 14 ran.
Handsome Dan (IRE) 25-1 (11-12) Way off pace in mid-division best, poor 5th and no extra approaching straight, tailed off, 7th of 11, well behind Distant Memories (11-9) at Limerick 2m mdn hdl hvy in Dec.