GREEN FLAG lost his unbeaten record over fences when second to Annacotty in the Grade 1 Feltham at Kempton on Boxing Day but Lucinda Russell's charge can return to winning ways in this company. Shutthefrontdoor was progressing well before a below-par effort at Cheltenham, though strictly on the book his earlier defeat of Beeves gives him something to find with Ely Brown. The latter won easily at Leicester in December on only his second start over fences and is preferred to Coverholder, beaten a long way when second at Haydock to Tarquin Du Seuil. Milborough came a cropper at Ayr last month having won on his chasing debut at Uttoxeter while Strike Fast is even harder to fancy making his racecourse debut at this level.
Coverholder (IRE) 16-1 (11-4) With leader, led before 8th, headed 5 out, with winner 4 out, not fluent 3 out, soon beaten, 2nd of 4, 17l behind Taquin Du Seuil (11-7) at Haydock 2m 5f nov chs G2 (1) hvy in Jan.
Ely Brown (IRE) 13-8fav (11-0) Tracked leaders, challenged 7th, led next, mistake 8th (water), mistake 14th, drawing clear when edged left before last, stayed on, won at Leicester 2m 7f nov chs (3) gs in Dec beating Beeves (11-7) by 16l, 4 ran.
Green Flag (IRE) 7-2 (11-7) Chased leaders, went 3rd after 11th, under pressure 4 out, kept on after next, never a threat, 2nd of 5, 10l behind Annacotty (11-7) at Kempton 3m nov chs Grade 1 (4yo+) (1) sft in Dec.
Shutthefrontdoor (IRE) 13-8fav (11-6) Held up behind leaders, not fluent 17th, hit 4 out and stumbled slightly, soon ridden and no impression, well beaten after 3 out, lost 3rd next, last of 4, 35l behind Sam Winner (11-1) at Cheltenham 3m 1f nov chs (2) gd in Dec.
Milborough (IRE) 5-4 (11-7) Tracked leaders in 3rd, pecked 1st, mistake 2nd, took keen hold, led 6th, headed before 9th, a close 2nd when fell 4 out, in a race won by Swatow Typhoon (11-7) at Ayr 3m 1f nov chs (4) hvy in Jan, 3 ran.
Strike Fast (IRE) 5-2 (12-5) Prog 15; one pce 2 out, 3rd of 16, 4 1/2l behind Dodgey Dream (12-5) at Aspatria 3m ptp gs in May '11.