Tote Win: £0.00 Tote Place: ££8.30,£2.10
Straight Forecast: £0.00 Exacta: £0.00 Trifecta: £0.00 Swingers: 1&2:£9.30 2&3:£1.80 1&3:£5.40
Jackpot: £28,895.72 carried forward to Leopardstown, 26th Jan
Placepot: £727.90, Pool: £261034.02, 261.77 winning tickets
Quadpot: £71.10, Pool: £16896.31, 175.73 winning tickets
A difficult race to weigh up with the testing ground and a seemingly career best performance from KNOCKARA BEAU at the age of 11 following a wind-operation. George Charlton's star has shown some of his best form at this track and showed a tremendous desire to put his head in front having looked in trouble when losing his position but his starting price reflected his chances of beating a strong field. He could return to his favourite hunting ground at Kelso before coming back to Cheltenham for either the Gold Cup or the World Hurdle where he will be expected to struggle despite this performance. The race hinged on Big Buck's and whether he retained his ability following his enforced absence and the jury must still be out to some degree. Sam Twiston-Davies certainly didn't ride him with kid gloves or as if a lack of fitness would be an issue but the latter probably played a part in his defeat as it appeared as though he was going to win nicely two from home only to have no extra once challenged. His trainer expects him to improve from this race and prove better suited by better ground and he comes out as the best horse at the weights as he was conceding weight to the pair that finished in front of him and, all in all, this was an encouraging enough return without completely convincing but he remains the one to beat in the World Hurdle. This was a big step forwards from At Fishers Cross (first time cheekpieces) who has had countless problems in his first season in open company and he was returning after having treatment on his break during a short break. He jumped far better than has been the case in this campaign and was given a fine confidence boosting ride from Tony McCoy that should serve him in good stead between now and March where he will be a live contender assuming that he can build on this run and that his jumping holds up. Along with the defeat of Big Buck's, the performances of Reve De Sivola and Boston Bob were also very disappointing with both horses' profiles suggesting that they should have relished these conditions. Reve De Sivola didn't have as much use made of him as has sometimes been the case and perhaps that contributed to his performance while Boston Bob weakened very quickly from the last and may just have been found wanting in this company as, arguably, this was one of the toughest tasks that he has faced to date.