CLOSE HOUSE jumped a lot better at Cheltenham last time and the fact that he only weakened at the last behind the classy Oscar Whisky and Taquin De Seuil suggests he should be competitive in this, despite top weight. Tresor De Bontee returned from a lengthy absence to make a winning start over fences at Uttoxeter and has obvious scope for further improvement. Useful hurdler Brick Red won at Plumpton before a close-up third at Newbury and can't be ignored either but Notarfbad has been a little disappointing since winning at Newton Abbot in October.
Close House 10-1 (11-0) Held up in touch in last, not that fluent, headway from after 10th, close 3rd before last, soon beaten, weakened flat, 3rd of 4, 15l behind Oscar Whisky (11-7) at Cheltenham 2m 5f nov chs G2 (1) sft.
Brick Red 11-8 (11-5) Slightly hampered 1st, tracked winner until after 3rd, close 3rd, went 2nd 3 out, driven to challenge and every chance last, lost 2nd final 200 yards and no extra final 100 yards, 3rd of 5, 2 3/4l behind Festive Affair (10-13) at Newbury 2m 1f nov chs (3) sft.
Notarfbad (IRE) 3-1 (11-11) Tracked leaders, went 2nd to chase clear leader 4th, outpaced 3 out, hampered next, stayed on towards finish, 3rd of 8, 20l behind Oscar Hill (11-12) at Exeter 2m 1f hcp chs 0-130 (3) gd in Nov.
Tresor De Bontee (FR) 9-4fav (10-11) Held up, headway 7th, hit 4 out, went 2nd and jumped left 3 out, challenged last, led flat, driven out, won at Uttoxeter 2m nov hcp chs 0-125 (3) hvy in Dec beating Lord Of House (11-11) by 1/2l, 6 ran.