On The Fringe won this in 2015 and 2016 but was only fourth last year, behind Pacha Du Polder, Wonderful Charm and Barel Of Laughs. He’s a teenager now and his time may have passed. Balnaslow, Minella For Value, Warden Hill, Grand Vision and Premier Portrait were all unplaced last year and may struggle to do any better but Caid Du Berlais is an interesting runner as he ran twice at The Festival last season and has won all three starts between the flags since switching stables. As well as Pacha Du Polder, who needed his run at Doncaster, and Wonderful Charm, Paul Nicholls also runs dour stayer Virak and the once-useful Unioniste while Sir Jack Yeats appears to be improving at a rate of knots. A line through top-class Irish hunter chaser Gilgamboa suggests FOXROCK (NAP) has every chance of beating likely favourite Burning Ambition. Jamie Codd’s mount is among the youngest in the line-up and a smart performer in the making but Alan Fleming has been keeping the powder dry with his charge, who was a Grade 1 chaser in his younger days. He, too, will get every assistance from the saddle and will revel in the conditions.
Balnaslow (IRE) 4-1 (12-2) Alw rr, last 1/2way & 9th 5out, mstk next,no ex in rr 2out, pu bef last, at Kirkistown 3m hvy in Feb.
Barel Of Laughs (IRE) 3-10fav (12-4) (cp) stdy hdwy 12; led last; pushed out, won at Bangor-on-dee 3m in Feb beating The Caller (11-10) by 1/2l, 6 ran.
Burning Ambition (IRE) 7-4 (12-0) Tracked leaders, 3rd halfway, headway in 2nd after 4 out, ridden to lead approaching last, under pressure and headed run-in, no impression on winner close home, 2nd of 4, 2 3/4l behind Gilgamboa (12-0) at Punchestown 3m 1f hvy in Feb.
Caid Du Berlais (FR) 2-5fav (12-0) (tt) ww; hdwy 10; led 4 out; canter, won at Badbury Rings 3m fm in Feb beating Mr Sawyer (12-0) by 6l, 5 ran.
Cousin Pete 1-2fav (11-10) (tt) went 2nd aft 11; led 14; rdn out, won at Barbury Racecourse 3m gs in Feb beating Abricot De L'oasis (11-7) by 2l, 5 ran.
Foxrock (IRE) 11-4 (12-0) Tracked leaders, 5th halfway, pushed along and headway after 3 out, disputed briefly next, soon ridden and no impression on winner after last, no extra, 2nd of 7, 10l behind Gilgamboa (11-11) at Thurles 3m hvy in Jan.
Grand Vision (IRE) 6-1 (11-8) Jumped left at times, mostly tracked leader until 8th, outpaced after 4 out, rallied to chase leader 3 out, led before last, clear flat, stayed on, won at Wincanton 2m 4f hcp (3) hvy in Feb beating Kayf Adventure (11-12) by 7l, 6 ran.
Minella For Value (IRE) 11-10fav (11-7) Led, headed before 3rd, 2nd halfway, pushed along entering straight and ridden after 2 out, kept on run-in, not reach winner, 2nd of 9, 1/2l behind Freewheelin Dylan (11-4) at Listowel 3m Yielding in Jun.
On The Fringe (IRE) 5-4 (12-2) Tr ldrs, 4th 1/2way, 3rd app str, 2nd at last, ko sme pce run-in, 2nd of 14, 5l behind Rue Hill (12-2) at Borris House 3m in Dec.
Pacha Du Polder (FR) 6-4fav (12-4) Tracked leaders, ridden before 4 out, outpaced from 2 out, 3rd of 5, 6 3/4l behind Warden Hill (11-10) at Doncaster 3m 2f (5) gs in Feb.
Premier Portrait (IRE) 8-15fav (12-8) Led until 2nd, tracked leader until not fluent 8th, last from next, a little detached from rest when hit 12th, swerved right to avoid faller when unseating rider 13th, at Fakenham 3m (6) sft in Feb.
Saddlers Encore (IRE) 8-13fav (12-0) Soon chasing (clear) winner, closed briefly 5th, not fluent 7th, well held 3 out, soon ridden, landed steeply next, blundered last, 2nd of 5, 9l behind Rouge Et Blanc (12-0) at Lingfield 2m 4f (6) hvy in Feb.
Shantou Magic (IRE) Evensfav (11-0) A.p; led bypassing 3 out; stayed on wl, won at Friars Haugh 3m sft in Feb beating Oscar Stanley (11-0) by 8l, 6 ran.
Shotavodka (IRE) 11-4 (12-4) Tracked leaders in 3rd place, towards rear before 6th, left in lead after 5 out, clear before last, no extra and headed towards finish, 2nd of 6, 1 3/4l behind Virak (12-1) at Haydock 2m 6f (3) hvy in Feb.
Sir Jack Yeats (IRE) 5-2 (12-6) Tracked leader, led 2f out, headed towards finish, rallied and to regain lead post, won at Kelso 2m 7f (5) hvy in Feb beating Cultram Abbey (12-6) by ns, 5 ran.
Top Wood (FR) 4-5fav (11-0) (cp) (tt) a.p; led 8-13; led 15; clr 2 out; rdn out, won at Chaddesley Corbett 3m sft in Dec beating Mon Parrain (11-0) by 10l, 10 ran.
Unioniste (FR) 4-11fav (12-6) Jumped well, led until narrowly headed 4th, in front again 10th until 13th, led again before next, 3 lengths ahead 2 out, easily, won at Fontwell 3m 2f (6) gs in Feb beating Real Milan (11-12) by 22l, 6 ran.
Vincitore (FR) 20-1 (11-12) Prominent, outpaced 10th, went 2nd 4 out, no chance with winner, almost a fence behind 2 out, 2nd of 3, dist behind Unioniste (12-6) at Wincanton 3m 1f (6) hvy in Feb.
Virak (FR) 5-4fav (12-1) With leader, tracked leaders, jumped left 5th, ridden after last, kept on to lead towards finish, won at Haydock 2m 6f (3) hvy in Feb beating Shotavodka (12-4) by 1 3/4l, 6 ran.
Volnay De Thaix (FR) 4-6fav (11-10) Hdwy 6; went 2nd 14; lft clr 2 out, won at Brocklesby Park 3m gs in Feb beating Corrin Wood (11-5) by 20l, 8 ran.
Warden Hill (IRE) 2-1 (11-10) Tracked leader, ridden before 5 out, led before last, kept on well run-in, won at Doncaster 3m 2f (5) gs in Feb beating Ardea (12-4) by 6l, 5 ran.
Wells De Lune (FR) 4-7fav (12-4) Made all, kept on well from last, won at Ffos Las 2m 5f (4) hvy in Feb beating Deadly Sting (11-10) by 8l, 7 ran.
Wonderful Charm (FR) (12-4) Held up, close 3rd going well after 16th, led before 4 out, rider lost iron briefly after 3 out, clear next, very easily, won at Musselburgh 3m 3f (5) sft in Feb beating Winged Crusader (12-1) by 6l, 6 ran.
Young Hurricane (IRE) 4-9fav (12-10) Held up; eff 15; ev ch last; unable qckn, 2nd of 4, 1l behind Soleil D'Avril (12-5) at Duncombe Park 3m gs in Feb.