Lava Lamp's big weight is partly negated by Conor Ring's 10lb claim but he still faces a stiff task while the soft ground could be a problem for Stage Acclaim, though he has been enjoying something of a revival lately. Andhaar has been raised 5lb since running Sansili to a short-head over a longer trip at Southwell but DECOY is now only 3lb higher than when winning a much more competitive contest at Cheltenham in November and a fourth at Uttoxeter in May should have blow away any cobwebs. He looks the one to beat as stablemate Vertige Dore hasn't raced since winning a chase at Fontwell in October and the four-year-old Scoglio also returns from a break.
Lava Lamp (GER) 8-1 (10-9) Held up, mistake 9th, lost touch from 11th, went 4th after 4 out, remote when fell 2 out, in a race won by Golden Call (10-12) at Bangor 2m 4f nov chs (4) gs in May, 7 ran.
Andhaar 10-1 (11-2) Held up behind in touch, chased leaders under pressure after 3 out, switched inside to challenge next, every chance when hung left between last 2, ridden and rallied flat, just failed, 2nd of 9, shd behind Sansili (10-3) at Southwell 3m hcp hdl 0-135 (3) gd in Jun.
Decoy (FR) 8-1 (11-11) Held up behind in touch, outpaced after 7th, kept on under pressure approaching last, never reached leaders, 4th of 10, 17l behind On The Right Path (10-0) at Uttoxeter 2m 4f hcp hdl 0-130 (3) sft in May.
Stage Acclaim (IRE) 9-2 (10-0) In rear and in touch, led, chased leader 11th, led 3 out, soon clear, easily, won at Ffos Las 2m 3f hcp chs (2) hvy in Jun beating Nobunaga (10-0) by 12l, 4 ran.
Vertige Dore (FR) 4-1 (11-3) Held up in touch, hit8th, chased leader 3 out, hard ridden next, stayed on under pressure to lead closing stages, won at Fontwell 2m 2f beg chs (4) gd in Oct beating Street Dance (11-3) by 1 1/4l, 5 ran.
Scoglio 6-4fav (10-11) Tracked leaders, ridden before and pecked 2 out, no impression on front two and soon weakened, lost 3rd place towards finish, 4th of 8, 45l behind Un Guet Apens (10-7) at Ayr 2m nh nov hdl (4) sft in Feb.