Merchant Royal won this a year ago when trained by Dermot Weld and followed up at Thurles but he had no answer to SALSIFY in the Foxhunter at Cheltenham and Rodger Sweeney's charge also landed the big hunter's event at Stratford in the summer where he established himself as the very best hunter in Ireland and the UK. He's up against some useful race-fit rivals here and probably won't be at his peak but his class should see him through. Tammys Hill has been in cracking form between the flags though got a shock when beaten at long odds-on at Loughnamore last time while Jim Dreaper's youngster Goonyella is progressing nicely and showed battling qualities at Grennan earlier this month.
Merchant Royal (IRE) 11-2 (12-0) Alw pr, cl up bef 3out, rdn bef 2out on terms, wknd last, no ex late, 7th of 14, 32l behind Slippers Percy (11-4) at Loughanmore 3m ire ptp hvy.
Salsify (IRE) 6-4fav (12-0) Held up towards rear, steady headway approaching 4 out, went 3rd travelling well 2 out, quickened to lead last, soon clear, won at Stratford 3m 4f hts chs (2) gd in Jun beating That's Rhythm (12-0) by 2 1/4l, 14 ran.
Tammys Hill (IRE) 2-5 (12-0) Alw pr, cl up 3out, chall 2out, went on last, hdd close home, 2nd of 14, 1/2l behind Slippers Percy (11-4) at Loughanmore 3m ire ptp hvy.
Ardkilly Celt (IRE) 6-1 (11-4) Chsd ldrs, 2nd from 6out & stumbled on bend aftr 3out, no ex bef 2out wknd up from 2out, 5th of 8, 4l behind Dushrembrandt (12-0) at Ballybunion 3m ire ptp gd in May.
Bothair Clei (IRE) 11-4 (11-4) Mid div, 6th 6out, prog in 3rd bef 3out where rddn, prog to ld aftr 2out, so, won at Dromahane 3m ire ptp gs beating Catalan Cruz (11-9) by 1/2l, 10 ran.
Family Oficial (IRE) 8-1 (11-4) Led, clear advantage from before halfway, pushed along and reduced lead when mistake 4 out, headed and dropped to 3rd before next, no extra and weakened before 2 out, 5th of 19, 41l behind Good Egg (11-2) at Down Royal 2m 4f hts chs hvy in Mar '11.
Knocksquire (IRE) 20-1 (11-12) Mid-division, never a factor, no threat in straight, 11th of 16, 36l behind Play The Market (11-11) at Naas 2m mdn hdl sft in Feb.
Mayo Calling (IRE) 8-1 (12-0) Mid div best, 5th 6out & btn in fair 7th aftr 4out, wknd & to by last, 8th of 9, 33l behind Boxing Along (12-0) at Dromahane 3m ire ptp gs.
Russian Regent (IRE) 6-1 (12-0) Mid div, prog to tr ldrs 3out, not qckn 2out but kow, 4th of 14, 11l behind Tammys Hill (12-0) at Glenbane 3m ire ptp gd in Oct.
Super Touch (IRE) 5-1 (12-0) Alw pr, not qckn bef 2out, wknd & pu last, in a race won by Artic King (12-0) at Grennan 3m ire ptp gd, 10 ran.
Goonyella (IRE) 5-1 (11-4) Tr ldrs, prog to chall 3out, on terms 2out, rallied last, ko best, won at Grennan 3m ire ptp gd beating Wiseoverbury (12-0) by nk, 16 ran.
Clonbeale Vacation (IRE) 5-2 (12-0) Chsd ldrs, disp from 5th until ld 16th, jnd aftr 5out, cl 2nd from 4out, chall last & ld cl home, won at Athlacca 3m ire ptp in May beating Nhakira (11-4) by hd, 10 ran.
Come On Ub (IRE) 4-1 (11-9) Ld & pr, ev ch bef 2out, sn hdd & no impress, 4th of 12, 4 1/2l behind Golden Moments (12-0) at Grennan 3m ire ptp gd.
The Blarney Rose (IRE) 4-1 (11-9) Tr ldrs, keen, chall aftr 3out, not go with wnr but kow, 2nd of 7, 3l behind Nedzer's Return (11-4) at Grennan 3m ire ptp gd.