2017 winner Lil Rockerfeller has not won at this level subsequently though last year’s winner If The Cap Fits ended the season with victory in the Grade 1 Stayers’ Hurdle at Aintree. The latter has leading claims once again but beat ROKSANA (NAP) at Aintree by only a head and Dan Skelton’s mare has a recent outing under her belt when going close again at Aintree a fortnight ago. She may well make the most of the fitness advantage and also get the better of Call Me Lord. Nicky Henderson’s charge has won at this level before though raced just the twice last season with a third in the Imperial Cup at Sandown his best effort. Le Patriote is on the upgrade and makes more appeal than Blu Cavalier of the remainder having landed the Swinton Hurdle at Haydock back in May.
If The Cap Fits (IRE) 7-1 (11-7) Held up in mid-division, headway 8th, went 2nd 3 out, switched right and blundered last, stayed on under pressure to lead last strides, won at Aintree 3m 1f (1) gd in Apr beating Roksana (11-0) by hd, 15 ran.
Le Patriote (FR) 20-1 (11-12) Mid-division on inside, headway after 3 out, effort between last 2, ridden to lead flat, held on near finish, won at Haydock 2m hcp (1) gd in May beating Project Bluebook (10-10) by 1l, 17 ran.
Blu Cavalier 20-1 (11-0) Tracked leaders, pushed along after 3 out, outpaced in 3rd when blundered next, weakened before last, 5th of 7, 36l behind Younevercall (11-0) at Sandown 2m 5f (1) gd in Apr.
Call Me Lord (FR) 3-1fav (11-12) Held up towards rear, headway on inside before 2 out, stayed on in 3rd before the last, 3rd of 13, 5 1/4l behind Malaya (10-2) at Sandown 2m hcp (1) sft in Mar.
Lil Rockerfeller (USA) 3-1fav (11-5) Chased winner until 12th, handy 3rd, not fluent 7th, 2nd again before 5 out, every chance 3 out, held when pecked 2 out, held on for 2nd, 2nd of 7, 9l behind Ballyoptic (11-12) at Chepstow 3m hcp (2) sft in Oct.
Roksana (IRE) 11-10fav (10-13) Held up, closing 3rd 2 out, mistake last, switched right flat, stayed on, went 2nd close home, just held, 2nd of 5, nk behind Top Notch (10-12) at Aintree 2m 4f (2) sft in Nov.