FAIR ALONG seems to go well fresh and has won this for the last two years. Philip Hobbs' game front-runner has to concede weight all round but it will take a good one to pass him up the home straight and this season's race possibly lacks the class of recent renewals. Carlito Brigante is a possible danger, however, as he was much improved when upped in trip last year, finishing fourth at Aintree and third at the Punchestown Festival after turning the Coral Cup at Cheltenham into a procession. Ashkazar is a decent stayer on his day, while it will be interesting to see how Grade 1 winning chaser What A Friend fares back over hurdles.
Fair Along (GER) 14-1 (11-10) Soon chased leaders, 4th halfway, 2nd 7 out, improved to lead 5 out, challenged 2 out, ridden and headed approaching last where mistake and unseated rider, in a race won by Uncle Junior (11-0) at Punchestown 3m 6f hcp chs 0-140 gd in May, 25 ran.
Carlito Brigante (IRE) 16-1 (11-10) Chased leader, hampered 5th, led from 2 out, headed approaching last, soon dropped to 3rd and kept on same pace, 3rd of 10, 7l behind Quevega (11-5) at Punchestown 3m hdl G1 (1) gs in May.
Russian War (IRE) 11-1 (11-12) Held up in rear, not fluent 2nd or 3 out, headway last, stayed on flat, never able to trouble leaders, 5th of 9, 6l behind Paint The Clouds (10-7) at Cheltenham 3m hcp hdl (2) gf.
Ashkazar (FR) 22-1 (11-10) Tracked leaders on inside, not much room and hampered after 4 out, soon lost place and behind, weakened before last, tailed off, last of 13, well behind Big Buck's (11-10) at Cheltenham 3m hdl G1 (1) gd in Mar.
Cantlow (IRE) 28-1 (11-4) Mid-division, headway when not fluent 3 out, soon went 3rd, not fluent 2 out, stayed on under pressure to take 2nd flat, not able to troubled winner, 2nd of 19, 4l behind Saint Are (11-4) at Aintree 3m nov hdl Grade 1 (1) gd in Apr.
Mobaasher (USA) 40-1 (11-11) Mid-division, lost place after 6th, weakened before 8th, 11th of 20, 47l behind Battle Group (11-1) at Aintree 3m hcp hdl Grade 3 (1) gd in Apr.
Restless Harry 40-1 (11-10) Raced keenly, tracked leaders, disputed 2nd 3 out, outpaced when hampered and lost place after 2 out, no impression approaching last, 9th of 13, 10l behind Big Buck's (11-10) at Cheltenham 3m hdl G1 (1) gd in Mar.
What A Friend 12-1 (11-6) Towards rear, hampered 6th (becher's brook), headway into mid-division 12th, outpaced 23rd (valentine's), weakened and pulled up before 4 out, in a race won by Ballabriggs (11-0) at Aintree 4m 4f hcp chs G3 (1) gd in Apr, 40 ran.