Tote Win: £0.00 Tote Place: ££3.00,£1.20
Straight Forecast: £0.00 Exacta: £0.00 Swingers: 1&2:£2.30 2&3:£23.70 1&3:£12.40
Jackpot: £10,785.50, Pool: £15190.89, 1.0 winning tickets
Placepot: £281.10, Pool: £102296.87, 265.59 winning tickets
Quadpot: £47.20, Pool: £9391.64, 147.0 winning tickets
This certainly wasn't the strongest renewal of this contest but it was competitive and did produce an impressive performance from FRENCH OPERA. The eight year old's only defeat last season in five starts came in the Grand Annual and it had seemed likely that he would be bidding to go one better next month but he may now be set to take his chance in the Champion Chase as he would almost certainly have top-weight in the handicap. He had been beaten a long way on soft ground (reported not to have suited) at Sandown in January on his seasonal reappearance but left that form a long way behind. He was a little awkward at the first obstacle but jumped well after that and always looked to have the measure of Tchico Polos in the home straight; the runner-up is a decent yardstick and was readily left behind and French Opera could, conceivably, still be on the upgrade. Tchico Polos had run a rare bad race in the Victor Chandler Chase, albeit when out of his depth, but returned to somewhere near his best and had the remainder well beaten off. Oiseau De Nuit came from a long way back to finish third but was never in contention having lost several lengths with a bad mistake on the far side and it's possible that this flattens him a little as he was passing beaten horses. Take The Breeze had set a fairly strong pace on his drop back from three miles; this was a respectable performance in the circumstances and he'll appreciate being stepped back up in trip but could be difficult to place in the short term as it increasingly appears as though the handicapper has his measure. Sports Line was well backed on his second start for Donald McCain and moved up into a challenging position on the turn for home so it was a shade disappointing that he faded into fifth. He was, however, ridden with more restraint than has often been the case and raced keenly as a result so he could well be worth another chance if he learns to settle or if connections allow him to bowl along. I'msingingtheblues will appreciate better ground and could bounce back in handicap company as he's starting to look quite well treated. Cornas had French Opera and Tchico Polos behind when winning at Sandown last time but failed to give his running and it will be no surprise if it turns out that something was amiss.