chased leaders, not fluent 2nd, closed 8th, 2nd 10th, mistake 13th, shaken up to challenge 2 out, soon led, edged right towards finish, driven and held on well
jumped right at times, led, headed 2nd, led before 4th, shaken up when went right and awkward 2 out, soon headed, rallied flat, held close home
tracked leader, led 2nd, headed before 4th, mistake 6th, 3rd from 10th, mistake 3 out, soon weakened
always last, hit 4th, not fluent 5th, well behind 4 out
Whisper may lack the scope of some of his rivals but he’s a smart performer on his day and a recent course and distance victory will have boosted his confidence. He makes more appeal than stablemate O O Seven, who was never really travelling when an odds-on failure at Doncaster. CLAN DES OBEAUX (NAP), on the other hand, was very impressive when making a winning start to his chase career at Newbury. The second was runner-up in the Kauto Star on Boxing Day and Paul Nicholls’ five-year-old should be tough to beat here. Briery Belle has won both starts over fences with the minimum of fuss and Henry Daly’s tough mare should not be underestimated.
Whisper (FR) 4-1 (11-0) Held up in rear, not fluent 3rd, headway 12th, 2nd 3 out, challenged last, soon led, driven out, won at Cheltenham 2m 5f (2) gs in Dec beating Baron Alco (11-5) by 2 1/2l, 6 ran.
Clan Des Obeaux (FR) 5-2 (10-7) Tracked leaders, went 2nd 5 out, led after 3 out, clear before last, won at Newbury 2m 4f (1) gs in Nov beating Virgilio (11-8) by 10l, 5 ran.
Briery Belle 9-4fav (11-0) Chased leader, closed 2 out, led before last, stayed on, won at Warwick 2m 4f lst (1) sft in Dec beating Desert Queen (11-6) by 6l, 6 ran.
Never Equalled (IRE) 17-2 (11-1) Tracked leaders, not fluent 2nd, ridden 3 out, joined winner 2 out, every chance when mistake last, kept on one pace, 2nd of 6, 2 3/4l behind Potters Legend (11-6) at Bangor 2m 4f (3) sft in Nov.
O O Seven (IRE) 8-13fav (11-8) Tracked leaders in 3rd, chased winner before 4 out until before last, one pace, 3rd of 4, 3 1/2l behind Present Man (11-8) at Doncaster 3m (1) gd in Dec.