in rear, pushed along early stages, not fluent 10th, went 6th 12th, went 4th after 3 out, switched right after last, soon went 3rd, no chance with winner but kept on to close on 2nd
Min beat Saint Calvados a neck in this last year and Paul Townend is back on board for the first time since. He looks to be the pick of his stable’s four runners, despite blundering badly and pulling up at Leopardstown last time, having beaten Tornado Flyer, Melon, Chris's Dream and Allaho in the John Durkan in December. The enigmatic Samcro won the Golden Miller here last year and seeks a third Festival success. Kalashnikov has never won around here but has been unlucky on occasions and found only MISTER FISHER too good in a Grade 2 at the track in December before failing to stay 3m at Newbury. Nicky Henderson’s seven-year-old has improved since a close-up fourth behind Samcro and Melon last year and might be ready for a first victory in the highest grade. Dashel Drasher has been going from strength-to-strength and Matt Griffiths will be hoping he can get him into a rhythm at the head of affairs while Imperial Aura’s blip at Kempton was uncharacteristic and he was impressive at The Festival last year.
Allaho (FR) 10-11fav (11-5) Prominent, jumped left 1st and led from 2nd, 4 lengths lead 3 out and slight mistake next, pressed and slight mistake last, ridden to assert and kept on well run-in, won at Thurles 2m 4f (1) Soft - Heavy in Jan beating Elimay (11-3) by 3l, 7 ran.
Chris's Dream (IRE) 11-2 (11-12) Very poor visibility) tracked leaders, raced keenly, closer in 2nd at 5th, still 2nd when mistake and pushed along 4 out, ridden and no impression before 2 out, no extra in moderate 4th before last, kept on one pace, 5th of 7, 22 1/2l behind Min (11-12) at Punchestown 2m 4f (1) hvy in Dec.
Fakir D'Oudairies (FR) 28-1 (11-12) Tracked leaders, 4th halfway, 2nd after 4 out and headway to challenge 2 out, pushed along and led briefly approaching last, ridden and no impression on winner run-in, kept on one pace, 2nd of 6, 8l behind Chacun Pour Soi (11-12) at Leopardstown 2m 1f (1) sft in Feb.
Fanion D'estruval (FR) 10-3 (11-0) In touch on outer, pushed along after 8th, not fluent 4 out, beaten when mistake last, 4th of 6, 15 1/2l behind Sceau Royal (11-0) at Newbury 2m (1) gs in Feb.
Imperial Aura (IRE) Evensfav (11-6) Tracking leader when blundered and unseated rider 2nd, at Kempton 2m 4f (1) gs in Jan.
Kalashnikov (IRE) 10-3 (11-0) In touch, slow 8th and 10th, headway to challenge approaching 4 out, ridden before 3 out, kept on one pace from last, 3rd of 7, 5l behind Secret Investor (11-0) at Newbury 2m 7f (1) gs in Feb.
Melon 7-2 (11-12) Held up early, slight mistake 7th, closer in 3rd halfway, rear after 2 out, ridden and no impression before last, kept on one pace, last of 5, 8 3/4l behind Kemboy (11-12) at Leopardstown 3m (1) sft in Feb.
Min (FR) 4-1 (11-12) Led or disputed lead early, headed 2nd, remained prominent, slight mistake 6th, bad mistake 7th, dropped to rear and pulled up before next, at Leopardstown 2m 1f (1) sft in Feb.
Mister Fisher (IRE) 9-2 (11-3) Led, headed before 2nd, chased leader until 8th, mistake 12th, led before 2 out, pressed 150 yards out, stayed on well, in command final 75 yards, won at Cheltenham 2m 4f (1) sft in Dec beating Kalashnikov (11-0) by 1 3/4l, 8 ran.
Samcro (IRE) 18-1 (11-12) Rear of mid-division, pushed along and no extra after 4 out, behind when pulled up before 2 out, at Leopardstown 3m (1) Yielding in Dec.
Tornado Flyer (IRE) 20-1 (11-12) Towards rear, slight mistake 2nd, in rear 4 out, pushed along 2 out, 4th and ridden early straight, no impression before last, under pressure and kept on one pace run-in, 4th of 6, 15 1/4l behind Chacun Pour Soi (11-12) at Leopardstown 2m 1f (1) sft in Feb.
Dashel Drasher 4-1 (11-7) Led until mistake and headed 1st, chased leader, hit 6th and next, closer and upsides 8th, led approaching 12th, ridden between last 2, over 4 lengths ahead when jumped slowly last, idled badly and edged left run-in, always doing enough, won at Ascot 2m 5f (1) sft in Feb beating Master Tommytucker (11-7) by 2l, 5 ran.
Real Steel (FR) 22-1 (11-10) Held up in last pair, hit 10th, headway on inside chasing leaders and pushed along before 3 out, weakened quickly and pulled up before 2 out, at Kempton 3m (1) gs in Dec.
Saint Calvados (FR) 11-2 (11-0) Waited with in rear, blundered and unseated rider 17th, at Sandown 3m (1) hvy in Feb.