Tote Win: £0.00 Tote Place: ££1.70,£1.10,£4.10
Straight Forecast: £0.00 Exacta: £0.00 Trifecta: £0.00 Swingers: 1&2:£3.00 2&3:£7.30 1&3:£7.10
Jackpot: £82,365.37 carried forward to Kelso, 15th Jan
Placepot: £534.70, Pool: £145734.64, 198.94 winning tickets
Quadpot: £101.30, Pool: £10523.11, 76.8 winning tickets
Carruthers lifted this prize in 2008 while 2005 winner No Refuge was the last winner to go on to be successful at the Cheltenham Festival although Court In Motion and Mossley both went on to be placed last year. It was a little hard to gauge the quality of this field with the leading contenders stepping up in class and the initial impression is that the form is nothing out of the ordinary. COTTON MILL, rated as high as 96 on the Flat, had easily won races at Hereford and Fakenham and showed a good attitude under a strong drive to maintain his unbeaten record on this step up in class. He didn't appear to be the easiest to steer taking the sharp left hand turn into the straight and made a hash of the second last but responded gamely to record a narrow success with a rail to help. Connections are keen to head to Cheltenham with the half-brother to Arc fifth Pure Grain and, although the race of this name will surely be a temptation, one of the handicaps may prove to be a better option. The handicapper has no easy task rating this contest with the winner rated 139, the second and third 129 and 121 coming into this and the 140 rated Highland Lodge failing to run his race. There's no doubt that Ambion Wood stepped up on the form that he has shown in novice and maiden hurdles and he has benefited from being ridden more prominently. Looking every inch the future chaser, he lost little caste in defeat and went a long way to justifying his trainer's high opinion of him. Victor Dartnall had earlier mentioned the EBF Final at Sandown the weekend before Cheltenham as a potential target and that valuable prize would appear to be the obvious race to aim for; it would be no surprise if he went straight there. The disappointment of the race was the heavily backed Highland Lodge but he weakened very quickly on turning in with his tongue lolling out of the side of his mouth and this was not his running. He has plenty of size and scope about him and should come into his own once jumping a fence providing that connections can get to the bottom of this performance; Jack Doyle later reported that the gelding hung right-handed. Irish point winner Same Difference stayed on well without ever troubling the principals and is another who is likely to be switched to chasing sooner rather than later. This was another promising run following a fair effort under a penalty at Newbury and he can win more races. Jumps Road had got the better of a couple of useful recruits from the Flat when winning at Ffos Las but was readily left behind when the principals turned the screw on this step up in trip; it was disappointing that he didn't manage to stay competitive for longer. Castle Conflict was another that failed to fire although he may have found this coming too soon after his win at Hereford.