SULPIUS has had a little break since winning over 3m2f here in early January but Bob Buckler has done a good job placing his eight-year-old to win four times this winter and appears to have found him another good opportunity with most of his rivals out of form. Special Robon has been particularly disappointing while the handicapper appears to have got grips with Venetian Lad, who was also engaged at Fontwell yesterday. For The Staff has yet to win over fences under Rules in 12 attempts but has been placed in his last four outings and should be thereabouts again here.
Venetian Lad 9-1 (10-13) Took keen hold, chased leaders, blundered 13th, ridden and weakened before next, tailed off when pulled up approaching 2 out, in a race won by Arbeo (10-10) at Newbury 2m 6f nov hcp chs 0-120 (4) hvy in Dec, 11 ran.
Mr Jay Dee (IRE) 25-1 (11-4) Tracked leaders on outside, not fluent and lost place 8th, weakened 3 out, tailed off, 7th of 9, well behind Mr Puck (11-8) at Southwell 3m hcp hdl 0-115 (4) gs in Feb.
Whispering Jack 16-1 (11-4) Led until 1st, prominent, jumped left and weakened 2 out, pulled up before last, in a race won by Denali Highway (11-12) at Huntingdon 2m 4f hcp chs 0-115 (4) sft in Feb, 12 ran.
Special Robon (FR) 7-4fav (9-9) Tracked leaders, pushed along 8th, lost place next, ridden and struggling from 10th, heavily eased after 12th, soon pulled up, in a race won by The Black Baron (10-11) at Fakenham 2m 5f hcp chs 0-125 (3) sft in Feb, 8 ran.
Arctic Watch 20-1 (11-0) In rear, not fluent and several slow jumps, well behind 4 out, pulled up after, in a race won by Denali Highway (11-12) at Huntingdon 2m 4f hcp chs 0-115 (4) sft in Feb, 12 ran.
Sulpius (GER) 10-3 (10-8) Made most, hit 8th, 3 lengths clear when mistake 2 out, soon ridden, stayed on gamely flat, won at Wincanton 3m 1f nov hcp chs 0-115 (4) sft in Jan beating The Big Freeze (11-9) by 2l, 5 ran.
Minella Ranger (IRE) 50-1 (11-0) In touch in rear, reminders 3rd, ridden 11th, weakened 14th, soon behind, 4th of 6, well behind Ballypatrick (11-0) at Fakenham 3m beg chase (4) gs in Feb.
For The Staff (IRE) 9-4fav (10-1) Tracked winner until before 2 out, soon weakened, 3rd of 6, 26l behind Shaking Hands (11-12) at Ffos Las 3m hcp chs 0-120 (4) hvy in Jan.