Lightning Strike has strong claims in this company on his rating over hurdles but has been in woeful form of late. MUSH MIR makes more appeal as he finished second in one of these events at Kempton in December and is a Polytrack winner on the Flat. Groomed won a chase at Fakenham last time and is rated higher over jumps than the likes of Earcomesthedream, Top Benefit and Farewellatmidnight but the unexposed Paul Nicholls' duo of Italian Master and Captain Kelly could prove bigger threats.
Be My Deputy (IRE) 14-1 (11-4) Led until pecked 11th, led again before 4 out, soon headed, no extra last, 3rd of 9, 15l behind Reginaldinho (11-12) at Leicester 2m 4f hcp chs 0-100 (5) gs.
Captain Kelly (IRE) 11-4 (10-12) Hampered 1st, chased leaders until lost place 5th, never on terms after, eased, tailed off, 7th of 10, well behind Awaywiththegreys (11-5) at Chepstow 2m 4f nh nov hdl (4) sft in Oct.
Earcomesthedream (IRE) 14-1 (10-5) Chased leaders, weakened before 4 out, 5th of 12, 23l behind Mauricetheathlete (10-12) at Chepstow 3m hcp hdl 0-120 (4) hvy.
Gavroche Gaugain (FR) 5-1 (11-4) Tracked leaders, outpaced after 4 out, well held after, went modest 3rd before last until close home, 4th of 8, 23l behind Strobe (11-2) at Sedgefield 2m 4f hcp 0-100 (5) gs in Nov.
Groomed (IRE) 6-5fav (10-7) Tracked leader, led 3 out, strongly challenged approaching last, forged clear flat, stayed on gamely, won at Fakenham 2m mdn chs (5) sft beating Persian Herald (10-10) by 4 1/2l, 4 ran.
Isthereadifference (IRE) 50-1 (11-0) Not fluent, took keen hold and held up in rear, weakened and struggling 11th, plugged on from 2 out, 4th of 5, 40l behind Camden (11-7) at Lingfield 3m nov chs (4) hvy.
Italian Master (IRE) 3-1 (11-1) Badly hampered 1st and rider lost iron briefly, held up in touch, ridden to chase winner 3 out, no impression, 3rd and beaten last, no extra, 3rd of 8, 16l behind Talkonthestreet (11-7) at Ludlow 3m nh nov hdl (4) gd in Apr.
Jonny Rye (IRE) 8-1 (11-3) Led until not fluent 2nd, prominent, not fluent and ridden 7th, lost place 3 out, soon weakened, 7th of 9, 28l behind Greyfriars Drummer (10-13) at Southwell 2m 4f hcp hdl 0-115 (4) gd in May.
Lightning Strike (GER) 50-1 (11-9) Tracked winner, lost place 3 out, weakened next, 6th of 12, 37l behind Loose Chips (11-7) at Kempton 2m 5f hcp hdl 0-135 (3) hvy in Dec.
Local Present (IRE) 6-1 (10-0) Led to 5th, chased leaders, outpaced before 4 out, weakened next, 6th of 10, 15l behind Everaard (11-4) at Musselburgh 3m hcp chs 0-115 (4) sft.
Mush Mir (IRE) 12-1 (11-4) Took keen hold, held up, rapid headway to lead approaching 4th, hit 8th, narrowly headed before 10th, led again 13th, strongly pressed when went left and bumped 3 out, soon headed, no impression when weakened to 3rd flat, 3rd of 9, 6l behind Brackloon High (10-9) at Kempton 3m hcp chs 0-145 (2) gs.
Top Benefit (IRE) 7-1 (10-11) Tracked leaders, lost place when not much room 9th, mistake 10th, hit 2 out, rallied last, stayed on same pace, 3rd of 6, 1 3/4l behind Todareistodo (11-6) at Towcester 2m 3f hcp 0-100 (5) hvy in Dec.
Farewellatmidnight 6-4 (11-6) Led until approaching 7th, chased clear leader next, under pressure 3 out, soon no impression, 2nd of 3, 11l behind Evella (11-1) at Fakenham 2m 5f Am hcp ch 0-100 (5) sft.