It took DHAAFER four attempts to get off the mark over hurdles but last month's C&D defeat of Head Hunted was achieved with a degree of comfort and Alan King's novice, who had met decent opposition in earlier starts, should be good enough to defy a penalty today. Pepite Rose is usually thereabouts and today's heavy ground may help offset her obvious lack of pace. She did finish ahead of the selection on worse terms at Huntingdon last month but Dhaafer is probably the more progressive of the pair. Zakeeta has had her limitations exposed since notching a double at Fontwell in the autumn but newcomer Rock The Stars could be interesting. He handled heavy going on the Flat and was very consistent in that sphere, winning at Salisbury and Yarmouth and being placed in five of his other six starts in 2010.
Dhaafer 5-1 (11-0) Always prominent, ridden after 3 out, led 2 out, not fluent last, stayed on well, won at Warwick 2m 4yo mdn hdl (4) gs in Jan beating Head Hunted (11-0) by 5l, 14 ran.
Zakeeta (IRE) 9-2 (10-12) Led in start, chased leaders, went 2nd 6th, led after 3 out until before next, weakened and mistake 2 out, tailed off, 8th of 10, well behind Captain Kirkton (11-6) at Lingfield 2m 3f nh nov hdl (4) hvy in Jan.
Pepite Rose (FR) 11-4 (10-7) Close up, challenged going well and every chance 3 out, ridden and dropped to 3rd when left 2nd 2 out, until soon ridden and weakened before last, 3rd of 14, 7l behind Accordintolawrence (11-2) at Fontwell 2m 2f nh nov hdl (4) gs in Jan.
Rock The Stars (IRE) 7-2fav (9-0) In touch, took keen hold early, headway over 3f out, chased winner inside final furlong, no impression, 2nd of 12, 3 1/2l behind Ocean Transit (9-4) at Nottingham 1m 2f hcp 0-75 (5) hvy in Nov (flat).
Royal Patriot (IRE) 100-1 (10-7) Held up behind, outpaced 4 out, 5th and beaten when blundered next, soon weakened, tailed off, 6th of 10, well behind Harry Hunt (10-4) at Bangor 2m 1f nh nov hdl (4) gs.
The de Thaix (FR) 50-1 (10-12) Chased leaders, pushed along 8f out, weakened over 3f out, tailed off, 8th of 11, 35l behind Tour D'argent (10-12) at Newbury 1m 4f 4yo nhf (6) sft in Jan.
Zambuka (FR) 100-1 (10-5) Chased leaders, not fluent 2nd, weakened after 3 out, tailed off, 8th of 12, well behind Music Of The Moor (10-12) at Sandown 2m 4yo nov hdl (4) hvy in Jan.