held up in last pair, not fluent 6th, ridden after next, not fluent 9th, lost touch 4 out
tracked winner, ridden after 4 out, lost 2nd next, well held last
held up in last pair, jumped slowly 8th, effort 3 out, soon hung left, one pace from 2 out, went 3rd final 75 yards
chased leaders, went 2nd 3 out until 2 out, one pace, lost 3rd final 75 yards
held up in touch in 4th, went 2nd 2 out, no chance with winner, stayed on same pace
made all, set slow gallop, quickened before 9th, asserting when not fluent 2 out, soon drew well clear, impressive
THISTLECRACK won't be much of a price in this but is impossible to oppose after his demolition job in the World Hurdle at Cheltenham. Of those routed at The Festival, only Aqalim renews hostilities with Colin Tizzard's brilliant stayer but it's hard to see him finishing any closer. Different Gravey will probably be going chasing next season and steps out of handicaps for this. He's improving but not quickly enough to bridge the gap. Shaneshill had some smart form over hurdles last year but has been chasing, though ran very well when second in the RSA Chase last month. Prince Of Scars has come on in leaps and bounds since finishing well behind Shaneshill at Fairyhouse a year ago and landed a Grade 1 at Leopardstown in December. He could be the danger to the selection if finding a bit more improvement as he'll enjoy the ground.
Aqalim 20-1 (11-7) Raced wide, tracked leaders, lost place 6th, reminders after 8th, soon behind, 6th of 8, 33 1/4l behind Thistlecrack (11-7) at Ascot 3m (1) gs in Dec.
Different Gravey (IRE) 5-1 (11-12) Held up, headway to chase leaders after 4 out, led 2 out, soon driven clear, ran on strongly, won at Ascot 2m 3f hcp (2) sft in Feb beating Fingertips (10-2) by 16l, 9 ran.
Prince Of Scars (IRE) 10-1 (11-10) Settled in 4th, left 3rd at 4th, smooth progress to lead approaching last, ridden and kept on well run-in, won at Leopardstown 3m (1) hvy in Dec beating Alpha Des Obeaux (11-10) by 4l, 5 ran.
Serienschock (GER) (10-7) 2nd of 10, 1l behind Bosseur (10-7) at Auteuil 2m 2f Grp 3 sft in Mar.
Shaneshill (IRE) 16-1 (11-4) Not always fluent, held up in rear, headway after 3 out, challenged 2 out, led when jumped left and not fluent last, headed flat, edged right and held towards finish, 2nd of 8, 1/2l behind Blaklion (11-4) at Cheltenham 3m (1) gd in Mar.
Thistlecrack Evensfav (11-10) Held up mid-division, took closer order 6th, went 2nd before 3 out, led next, clear before last, driven out, ran on well, impressive, won at Cheltenham 3m (1) gd in Mar beating Alpha Des Obeaux (11-10) by 7l, 12 ran.