OPENING BATSMAN found Rolling Aces too strong over C&D last month but the winner looks a decent novice so that probably wasn't a bad effort. Harry Fry's charge had won on his chasing bow at Plumpton, when Ballylifen was a one-paced fifth, and remains open to further improvement. Rolling Aces' trainer Paul Nicholls has There's No Panic entered in this but he needs to put a couple of below-par efforts behind him while the handicapper has taken no chances with Top Smart, who hasn't been seen since winning on his fencing debut at Worcester in May. Howard's Legacy's jumping needs to improve and he fell at Ludlow last month.
Top Smart 5-1 (11-0) Held up towards rear on outside, switched left and headway approaching 8th, led after 3 out, not fluent last, soon well clear, won at Worcester 2m 7f beg chase (4) gd in May beating Indian Daudaie (11-0) by 10l, 10 ran.
There's No Panic (IRE) 18-1 (11-8) Held up, hampered and left 4th 4 out, no impression, 4th of 6, 19l behind Dynaste (11-8) at Newbury 2m 4f nov chs Grade 2 (1) gs in Nov.
Opening Batsman (IRE) 9-2 (11-3) In touch, headway 7th, ridden to chase winner approaching 3 out, kept on, 2nd of 7, 11l behind Rolling Aces (11-6) at Wincanton 2m 5f nov chs (3) hvy in Dec.
Howard's Legacy (IRE) 6-1 (11-12) Tracked leaders, mistake 7th, challenged after 5 out, every chance next, weakened quickly after 3 out, beaten when fell next, in a race won by Tour Des Champs (11-10) at Ludlow 3m hcp chs 0-130 (3) sft in Dec, 9 ran.
Ballylifen (IRE) 12-1 (11-10) Chased winner, ridden before 4 out, lost 2nd next, hung left and stayed on same pace and no chance with leading duo from 2 out, 3rd of 11, 21l behind Arbeo (10-10) at Newbury 2m 6f nov hcp chs 0-120 (4) hvy in Dec.