STANDING OVATION has really got his act together and, though racing off another career-high mark, may not have stopped winning yet. He again receives weight all round after completing his hat-trick over a longer trip here last time when jumping like an old hand and his stable has won it twice in recent years. Paul Nicholls also has a decent record in the race and Poungach looks the pick of his pair this time but Pantxoa has shot up the weights and found Twirling Magnet too good at Cheltenham last time. Chepstow third Court By Surprise is interesting and Ballyallia Man was fourth in the race last year and should strip fitter for a pipe-opener over hurdles. Masters Hill won over the smaller obstacles on his return but may lack the chasing experience for a race like this.
Aiteen Thirtythree (IRE) 11-2fav (11-10) Mid-division, headway 12th, chased leaders 5 out, soon pushed along, weakened before 3 out, 10th of 15, 34l behind Calgary Bay (11-11) at Doncaster 3m listed hcp chs (1) gs in Jan '12.
Poungach (FR) 11-8 (11-7) Made all, not fluent 7th, hit 4 out and ridden along, pushed clear from 3 out, blundered last, driven out and stayed on well, won at Kempton 3m nov chs (3) gs in Mar beating Malt Master (11-7) by 5l, 3 ran.
Billie Magern 20-1 (11-0) Prominent, ridden after 4 out, stayed on same pace from last, 4th of 11, 4l behind The Disengager (11-12) at Newton Abbot 2m 5f listed hcp chs (1) gd in Aug.
Pantxoa (FR) 7-2fav (11-8) Led, jumped right, not fluent 3rd, blundered badly 3 out, headed last, stayed on, no impression on winner, 2nd of 9, 4 1/2l behind Twirling Magnet (11-8) at Cheltenham 3m nov chs (2) gd in Oct.
Masters Hill (IRE) 5-4fav (10-11) In touch, headway to 3rd at 5th, left 2nd next, challenged from 3 out, led before last, stayed on well to go clear flat, won at Exeter 2m 7f am nov hdl (4) gs in Oct beating Lumpys Gold (11-4) by 5l, 12 ran.
Ballyoliver 8-1 (10-10) Held up in 5th, mistake 14th, ridden 16th, headway after 3 out, led before next, headed approaching last, stayed on same pace, no impression on winner flat, 2nd of 9, 10l behind Life Of A Luso (10-1) at Cheltenham 3m 1f hcp chs 0-150 (2) sft in Apr.
Court By Surprise (IRE) 11-4fav (10-8) Chased leaders, went 2nd 13th, led before 5 out, 1 length ahead last, no extra and headed final 75 yards, lost 2nd close home, 3rd of 14, 3/4l behind Al Co (11-0) at Chepstow 3m hcp chs 0-150 (2) gd in Oct.
Alvarado (IRE) 16-1 (10-8) Towards rear, headway on inside 3 out, left 5th at the last, kept on same pace and no impression flat, 5th of 14, 3l behind Al Co (11-0) at Chepstow 3m hcp chs 0-150 (2) gd in Oct.
Owen Glendower (IRE) 50-1 (11-9) Held up in rear, effort before 4 out, never dangerous, 5th of 8, 7l behind Grandads Horse (11-12) at Wetherby 2m 4f hcp chs 0-135 (3) gs in Oct.
Ballyallia Man (IRE) 6-1 (10-12) Led, mistake 7th, ridden and headed before 2 out, lost 2nd 2 out, kept on same pace and no impression in 3rd, 3rd of 7, 23l behind Southfield Theatre (11-7) at Wincanton 2m 6f nh nov hdl (4) gd in Oct.
De La Bech 6-4fav (10-12) Led until 5th, prominent, not fluent 9th, challenged 4 out, led 2 out, all out, won at Exeter 3m nov chs 0-125 (4) gd in Mar beating Big News (10-7) by 1l, 6 ran.
Alfie Spinner (IRE) 14-1 (10-8) Mid-division, lost place and towards rear 6th, never on terms after, 10th of 14, 33l behind Al Co (11-0) at Chepstow 3m hcp chs 0-150 (2) gd in Oct.
Lamboro Lad (IRE) 3-1 (11-2) Tracked leader, every chance after 3 out, soon hard ridden, weakened before last, 2nd of 4, 9l behind Hazy Tom (11-12) at Bangor 2m 4f hcp chs 0-140 (3) sft in Oct.
Standing Ovation (IRE) 5-1 (10-0) Tracked leading pair, went 2nd 5th(water), led after 18th, joined and strongly pressed from 3 out, stayed on to assert flat, won at Wincanton 3m 3f hcp chs 0-140 (3) gd in Oct beating Highland Lodge (11-12) by 1 3/4l, 12 ran.