prominent, led 2nd, soon headed, stayed handy, went 2nd after 3 out, shaken up and every chance when hit 2 out, 2 1/2 lengths down last, closed and threatened briefly flat, held towards finish
held up in rear, not always fluent, hampered 10th, soon pushed along, switched right and closed 3 out, went 3rd final bend before 2 out, no impression on front pair, lost 3rd last stride
prominent, led after 2nd, headed next, led 4th until before 5th, led again 3 out, pressed 2 out, 2 1/2 lengths ahead last, edged slightly right flat and then slightly left, stayed on gamely and holding 2nd towards finish
NOTEBOOK comfortably repelled Fakir D'oudairies in a Grade 1 at Leopardstown on Boxing Day and then held off Cash Back over the same course and distance last month. If Rachael Blackmore can keep him calm on the way to the start here, he should take all the beating. Brewin'upastorm is 2-2 over fences and ran well at The Festival last year but he’s not raced since November and this is a huge step up in class. Put The Kettle On beat Al Dancer and last month’s impressive Warwick winner Rouge Vif here in November and could be a huge price given she’s only been beaten over fences once so far. She is preferred to the other mare Maire Banrigh in a race that the Irish could dominate, though Esprit Du Large jumped well when winning the Henry VIII at Sandown and Global Citizen beat Rouge Vif and Al Dancer in the Wayward Lad at Kempton over Christmas, though has found Grade 1 company too hot to handle in the past.
Al Dancer (FR) 9-4 (11-3) Chased leader, challenged on bit 2 out, chased winner approaching last where not fluent, driven and stayed on run-in, 2nd of 4, 1l behind Mister Fisher (11-3) at Doncaster 2m (1) gs in Jan.
Brewin'upastorm (IRE) 8-15fav (11-8) Tracked leaders, left 2nd at 2nd, led 9th, ridden when not fluent last, ran on, won at Taunton 2m 2f (4) gd in Nov beating Southfield Stone (11-2) by 4l, 4 ran.
Cash Back (FR) 10-3 (11-10) Disputed lead early, led after 1st, joined and strongly pressed 2 out, ridden entering straight, headed narrowly before last, kept on under pressure in 2nd inside final furlong, 2nd of 6, 3/4l behind Notebook (11-10) at Leopardstown 2m 1f (1) Yielding in Feb.
Esprit Du Large (FR) 14-1 (11-2) Tracked leaders on outside, went close 2nd before 7th (water), led 3 out, ridden after next, stayed on when strongly pressed flat, held on well, won at Sandown 2m (1) sft in Dec beating Nube Negra (11-2) by 1 3/4l, 6 ran.
Fakir D'Oudairies (FR) 11-8 (11-5) Disputed lead early, soon raced in 3rd, effort between horses and rider briefly without iron early straight, kept on well without matching winner run-in, 2nd of 5, 1 1/2l behind Notebook (11-12) at Leopardstown 2m 1f (1) Yielding in Dec.
Global Citizen (IRE) 8-1 (11-2) Jumped well, joined 3 out, ridden between last 2, in command before last, stayed on well, won at Kempton 2m (1) sft in Dec beating Rouge Vif (11-2) by 1 1/2l, 6 ran.
Notebook (GER) 5-4fav (11-10) Keen to post, disputed lead early, headed after 1st and chased leader, improved to dispute lead travelling well 2 out, soon ridden, led narrowly before last, stayed on well under pressure inside final furlong, won at Leopardstown 2m 1f (1) Yielding in Feb beating Cash Back (11-10) by 3/4l, 6 ran.
Our Merlin 9-2 (11-4) Towards rear, headway from before 4 out, about 4 lengths down in 2nd when left in lead 2 out, kept on well, won at Taunton 2m hcp (3) sft in Jan beating Coole Well (11-2) by 2 3/4l, 7 ran.
Rouge Vif (FR) 7-2 (11-0) Chased leader, led before 3 out, clear last, stayed on strongly, won at Warwick 2m (1) gs in Feb beating Nube Negra (11-0) by 7l, 6 ran.
Maire Banrigh 1-4fav (11-0) Chased leader, led before 2 out, clear last, ridden flat but in no danger, won at Huntingdon 2m 4f lst (1) sft in Jan beating Dalila Du Seuil (11-0) by 11l, 3 ran.
Put The Kettle On (IRE) 6-1 (10-9) Tended to jump right, made all, driven between last 2, ridden after last, stayed on strongly flat, won at Cheltenham 2m (1) sft in Nov beating Al Dancer (11-5) by 2 1/2l, 4 ran.