in touch, driven along in 4th before 3 out, weakened before next
raced wide, pressed leader, ridden and still chasing leaders 2 out, weakened flat
in touch, not fluent 4th, last and struggling under pressure 4 out, tailed off 3 out, pulled up soon after
raced wide, took keen hold, held up in touch, hit 5th, hit 3 out, 7th and no chance when fell heavily 2 out
always towards rear, hit 5th, ridden along 7th, struggling 4 out, tailed off
raced wide, held up towards rear, hit 4 out, disputing modest 6th when blundered 3 out
held up in rear, tailed off 4 out, 10th and well beaten when fell last
raced on inside, held up towards rear, hit 9th and ridden, headway under pressure before 2 out, closed on leader last, led and hung right flat, stayed on gamely, driven out
close up until ridden and weakened after 4 out, tailed off
close up, challenged in 2nd 4 out, led approaching 4 out, ridden before last, headed when crossed flat, no extra
held up in early stages, headway to chase leaders 8th, challenged in 2nd 4 out, every chance when hit 2 out, weakened after last
chased leaders until not keen lost place and in rear 7th, stayed on approaching 2 out, went 3rd after last, kept on well flat
led ,headed before and mistake 4 out, weakened soon after, taild off and pulled up before 2 out
Paul Nicholls reports that he's never had Pistolet Noir in better shape and if blinkers work the oracle then he's a threat, having shown a liking for the course when winning the opener on this card in 2009. He's closely matched with Sir Harry Ormesher on their meeting at Aintree in the spring and neither should struggle with today's trip on what we've seen so far. Alan King's horse does have to recover quickly from a heavy fall at Chepstow though and it may pay instead to focus on the Nigel Twiston-Davies pair VIKING BLOND and Ackertac, with the former just preferred. The selection shaped well on his return behind Amber Brook at the track, travelling smoothly into contention before weakening late on, and with his record at stiff tracks holding up to close inspection and the prospect of a good deal more to come the five-year-old should go close. Ackertac has done nothing wrong in winning a pair of novice hurdles lately but this is an altogether different test and the handicapper has taken few chances while Supercede, Our Bomber Harris and Raslan all have each-way prospects and help to make this a tricky puzzle.
Sir Harry Ormesher 14-1 (11-9) Held up towards rear, in touch in 5th when fell 4 out, in a race won by Any Given Day (10-8) at Chepstow 2m 4f Listed hcp hdl (1) sft in Oct, 13 ran.
Raslan 10-1 (11-0) Led until after 1st, pressed leader until led again before 8th, ridden and headed when hit 3 out, soon weakened, 5th of 8, 31l behind Fair Along (11-8) at Wetherby 3m 1f hdl G2 (1) gd in Oct.
Nozic (FR) 40-1 (11-2) Behind, in rear at 18th, tailed off when pulled up before 3 out, in a race won by Church Island (10-5) at Sandown 3m 5f hcp chs G3 (1) gd in Apr, 19 ran.
Pistolet Noir (FR) 11-2 (11-3) In rear, ridden approaching 4 out, never dangerous, 11th of 13, well behind Any Given Day (10-8) at Chepstow 2m 4f Listed hcp hdl (1) sft in Oct.
Supercede (IRE) 9-1 (11-6) Held up in last pair, mistake 8th, smooth headway on inside before 3 out, left close 2nd 2 out, ridden to challenge last, took narrow lead flat until no extra and headed final 110 yards, 2nd of 9, 1l behind Aiteen Thirtythree (10-12) at Cheltenham 3m 1f nh nov hdl (3) gd in Oct.
Our Bomber Harris 11-2fav (11-9) Held up in last, took keen hold, jumped slowly 1st, headway 3 out, pecked 2 out, 4th and no impression last, 4th of 11, 14l behind Quartz De Thaix (11-1) at Cheltenham 2m 4f hcp hdl (2) gd in Apr.
Maucaillou (GER) 4-1 (10-12) Led and soon clear, weakened quickly and headed 5 out, soon behind, pulled up before lat, in a race won by Don't Be Bitin (12-0) at Wexford 2m 1f hcp chs gd in Jun, 11 ran.
Cross Kennon (IRE) 9-2fav (11-11) Held up behind, mistake 3rd, headway into mid-division 9th, ridden after 4 out, kept on same pace under pressure from next, never troubled leaders, 6th of 13, 29l behind The Shy Man (10-11) at Aintree 3m hcp hdl 0-135 (3) gs in Oct.
Quickbeam (IRE) 10-1 (10-11) Tracked leaders, went 2nd 3 out, challenged next, ridden and every chance last, no extra flat, 2nd of 14, 4 1/2l behind Picture This (10-3) at Cheltenham 3m hcp hdl 0-140 (2) gd in Apr.
Viking Blond (FR) 9-1 (9-13) Tracked leaders, went 2nd before 4 out, challenged next, every chance 2 out, soon ridden and outpaced, no impression approaching last, 6th of 14, 8l behind Amber Brook (10-13) at Cheltenham 3m hcp hdl (2) gd in Oct.
Ackertac (IRE) 5-6fav (11-5) Chased leader, led 6th, came clear from 2 out, stayed on strongly, won at Uttoxeter 2m 6f nh nov hdl (4) gd in Oct beating Hear My Song (10-12) by 4 1/2l, 16 ran.
Backbord (GER) 10-1 (10-1) Soon pushed along and behind, never travelled well, headway under pressure 3 out, chased leaders when left 4 lengths 2nd next, soon ridden, kept on same pace, no impression with winner, 2nd of 9, 3l behind Working Title (11-3) at Kempton 2m 5f hcp hdl (2) gd.
Is It Me (USA) 33-1 (9-12) Led 2nd, ridden and headed after 3 out, stayed chasing leaders, rallied gamely towards finish, just held, 2nd of 17, hd behind Russian War (10-11) at Cheltenham 2m 5f hcp hdl 0-140 (2) gd in Oct.