Willie Mullins has won five of the last eight including the last two. Unlike most of his recruits from France, RUBI BALL is a very experienced performer with two Grade 1 victories over fences and other Grade successes over timber to his credit. He wasn't in that kind of form last year so escapes a penalty and could hardly be better in for his debut. Like his main rival, Foildubh, he'll do better when sent over the bigger obstacles but is taken to continue his trainer's run in the event. Foildubh won a Grade 2 over fences in April but has mainly been performing over timber subsequently and won't go down without a fight. Aughnacurraveel didn't run very well at Naas last time and will need to do much better while Seefood, who was in tremendous form around this time a year ago, has failed to progress as expected.
Aughnacurraveel (IRE) 12-1 (11-7) Chased leaders in 6th, 8th approaching 4 out and no threat from early straight, weakened, 11th of 14, 27l behind Courtncatcher (10-12) at Naas 2m 4f in Oct.
Foildubh (IRE) 20-1 (11-10) Raced in 3rd, slight mistake 6th, challenged from before 2 out where not fluent and lost place, ran on without threatening run-in, 4th of 6, 5l behind Arvika Ligeonniere (11-8) at Clonmel 2m 4f chs Grd 2 (1).
Seefood (IRE) 12-1 (11-4) Tracked leader in 2nd, ridden 3 out, dropped to 3rd 2 out, kept on one paced straight, 3rd of 4, 8l behind Glens Melody (11-3) at Punchestown 2m 6f hdl.
Dante Anna (IRE) 6-1 (11-0) Tracked leaders, 6th before 4 out, no extra from before next, 9th of 15, 43l behind Raheenwood (11-6) at Downpatrick 2m 7f hcp chs 0-102 gd in May.
Pirate Chest (IRE) 100-1 (10-11) Towards rear, reminders and lost touch before 7th, soon pulled up, in a race won by Lord Wishes (11-0) at Musselburgh 2m 4f mdn hdl (5) gs in Dec, 11 ran.
Rubi Ball (FR) 7-4fav (11-4) 2nd of 10, 10l behind Rochmi Du Mont (10-9) at Pau(FR) 3m 2f chs Grade 3 (1) hvy in Jan.
Needed The Run (IRE) 50-1 (11-0) Held up, moderate 14th before halfway, no danger and kept on same pace from 4 out, 10th of 19, well behind Real Steel (11-12) at Cork 2m mdn hdl.