A small but quite select field for the traditional Bank Holiday opener with ROMULUS DU DONJON taken to make the journey from Lambourn worthwhile. A comfortable scorer in a small-field Market Rasen hurdle earlier in the month, the Sherwood gelding has produced steadily progressive form with each run in 2015 and appeals as the type to maintain that upward curve. He's asked to concede 7lb to former David O'Meara inmate Never Up, who rates the main threat on the evidence of a most promising second to the prolific Gingili, beaten only a length and a half, on his hurdling debut at Sedgefield. Dire Straits is consistent enough but is somewhat flattered by his form figures whilst Bleu Et Or is required to improve on achievements to date in order to play a major role.
Dire Straits (IRE) 11-4 (10-7) Disputing 2nd until badly hampered by loose horse 4th, chased leaders, rallied into 3rd 4 out, driven after 3 out, one pace and no impression from next, 3rd of 7, 10l behind Berea Venture (10-12) at Uttoxeter 2m 4f nh nov hdl (4) gd.
Romulus Du Donjon (IRE) 5-4fav (11-11) Tracked leader, led before 2 out, soon ridden, clear before last, won at Market Rasen 2m 3f 4yo hcp hdl 0-115 (4) gd beating Mighty Missile (11-12) by 8l, 3 ran.
Kauto Riko (FR) Ballingarry gelding out of Kauto Relstar.
Never Up (GER) 5-1 (10-8) Took keen hold, held up tracking leading trio, smooth headway on inside approaching 3 out, challenged 2 out, driven between last 2, every chance when edged left before the last, hung left and stayed on same pace under pressure run-in, 2nd of 5, 1 1/2l behind Gingili (11-5) at Sedgefield 2m 1f nh nov hdl (4) gd.
Bleu Et Or (FR) 12-1 (10-9) In rear and keen, outpaced from 4th, kept on to take 3rd place last, never dangerous, 3rd of 5, 28l behind Third Act (11-0) at Chepstow 2m NH mdn hdl (5) gd in Apr.