Alpha Victor easily won a novices event at Sedgefield last time and there should be more to come from him on only his third start over fences. But a couple of these have superior form, including Count Guido Deiro. The latter picked up a handicap at Wincanton in good style on Boxing Day and should go close again. However, Alan King trained last year's winner Godsmejudge and is fancied to repeat the feat with MIDNIGHT PRAYER. He finished a distance ahead of the rest when runner-up to Benvolio at Newbury last month and the latter has subsequently gone in again.
Alpha Victor (IRE) 7-2 (11-3) Tracked leader, challenged last, soon led, kept on well run-in, won at Sedgefield 3m 3f nov chs (4) hvy in Jan beating Mondo Cane (11-3) by 13l, 5 ran.
Count Guido Deiro (IRE) 16-1 (11-6) Made most, ridden 3 out, stayed on strongly from 2 out, won at Wincanton 3m 1f hcp chs 0-125 (3) hvy in Dec beating Waltzing Tornado (10-0) by 2 1/4l, 9 ran.
Midnight Prayer 7-4fav (10-11) Chased leaders, reminders after 8th (water), jumped slowly 9th, went 2nd 14th, challenged and not fluent 4 out, ridden to lead narrowly next, headed 2 out, chased winner and every chance last, edged left and not quicken flat, 2nd of 7, 2l behind Benvolio (11-0) at Newbury 3m (3) gs in Dec.
Spike Mac (IRE) 150-1 (10-12) Led after 1st, headed 6th, soon weakened, tailed off, last of 6, well behind Tidal Dance (10-12) at Towcester 3m nov hdl (4) hvy in Jan.
Strike Fast (IRE) 40-1 (11-0) Tracked leaders on outside, left in 3rd and last before 9th, no chance with front pair from 12th, continued tailed off, 3rd of 5, well behind Ely Brown (11-4) at Wetherby 3m 1f nov chs G2 (1) hvy.