This is normally run at a frantic pace and this renewal should be no exception and BELLVANO contests this race rather than other entries at this festival so is preferred to Tawaagg and Tito Bustillo. Nicky Henderson looks to have a strong grip on this race, and the selection's form has received a boost this week with the victory of Menorah in the Supreme Novices'. Although his best runs have come at Newbury, he should handle this track and although deserted by McCoy he has Barry Geraghty in the plate as compensation. Puyol and Tawagg are closely linked on their Leopardstown run last time and that handicap form looks solid, although new marks over here make life tough. Songe could be well-handicapped after some poor runs this year but his breathing has been a problem, Noble Prince is consistent and likely to run a good race up the hill, whilst Marodima's resurgence has come at a much lower level and he'll be running on empty in the closing stages. Rock Noir is a fascinating contender on his UK debut and the fact that AP McCoy rides would hint to a very big run, but it is hard to say whether this mark of 152 is fair. If we go on a form line though Jumbo Rio who he beat last time, then one would have to feel that it could be generous. Eradicate's Musselburgh form has been working out extremely well, Tito Bustillo doesn't have much to find with the selection on their Newbury running and he's favoured by the weights, whilst Thousand Stars and Tarkari could be well-handicapped and the latter off bottom-weight looks an interesting contender. Howard Johnson throws a few darts at the target and the pick could be the chaser Santa's Son despite jockey bookings suggesting otherwise. Inventor was classy on the flat and a mark of 132 may not be beyond him in this realm, whilst Keki Buku represents a stable in fine form and is a contender assuming his jumping holds up. As tough a puzzle as you'll have found all week, but the tentative selection is Bellvano.
Rock Noir (FR) (10-5) won at Auteuil(FR) 2m 3f 4yo hdl Grd 1 hvy in Nov beating Jumbo Rio (10-5) by 1/2l, 11 ran.
Marodima (FR) 11-4fav (11-6) Made all, soon well clear, over 25 lenghts ahead 6th, 7 lenghts clear 3 out, ridden before next, clung on gamely, won at Bangor 3m hcp hdl 0-130 (3) gs beating The Real Deal (10-11) by 1l, 7 ran.
Bahrain Storm (IRE) 9-2 (11-3) Tracked leaders in 4th, close up when mistake 2 out, soon ridden, 5th last, kept on under pressure close home, 4th of 7, 6l behind Won In The Dark (11-5) at Leopardstown 2m 2f hdl sft in Feb.
Noble Prince (GER) 7-2 (11-7) Held up in 5th, 4th before 3 out, headway in 3rd entering straight, ridden to challenge approaching last, no extra in 3rd run-in, kept on same pace, 3rd of 6, 1 1/4l behind Luska Lad (11-10) at Gowran Park 2m hdl G2 sft in Feb.
Bellvano (GER) 8-11fav (11-12) Held up, in rear, steady headway approaching 3 out, chased leaders from next, led last, hung badly left flat, stayed on well enough, won at Newbury 2m nh nov hdl (3) gs in Feb beating Gus Macrae (11-2) by 1l, 12 ran.
Puyol (IRE) 16-1 (10-10) Mid-division, 9th 3 out, progress into 6th next, ridden in 3rd entering straight, led last, kept on well under pressure run-in, won at Leopardstown 2m ext hcp hdl hvy in Jan beating Tawaagg (10-9) by 1/2l, 30 ran.
Songe (FR) 25-1 (10-13) Mid-division, no headway soon after 3 out, 11th of 23, 20l behind Get Me Out Of Here (10-6) at Newbury 2m hcp hdl Grade 3 (1) gs in Feb.
Mutual Friend (USA) 66-1 (11-1) Alway behind, 10th of 16, 20l behind Beshabar (11-2) at Ascot 2m 3f hcp hdl (2) gs in Feb.
Tawaagg 16-1 (10-9) Rear of mid-division, headway from 3 out, ridden in 9th on outer entering straight, 3rd at last, kept on well run-in, 2nd of 30, 1/2l behind Puyol (10-10) at Leopardstown 2m ext hcp hdl hvy in Jan.
Any Given Day (IRE) 16-1 (10-9) Towards rear, stayed on from 2 out, never reached leaders, 7th of 23, 11l behind Get Me Out Of Here (10-6) at Newbury 2m hcp hdl Grade 3 (1) gs in Feb.
Eradicate (IRE) 9-2 (10-13) Raced keenly in touch, headway after 3 out, ridden to lead at bypassed 2 out, stayed on well, won at Musselburgh 2m hcp hdl 0-145 (2) gs in Feb beating Palomar (10-9) by 2l, 12 ran.
Tito Bustillo (FR) 9-4 (11-12) Close up in 5th, effort 2 out, challenged and every chance last, one pace flat, lost 2nd near finish, 3rd of 12, 1 3/4l behind Bellvano (11-12) at Newbury 2m nh nov hdl (3) gs in Feb.
Dee Ee Williams (IRE) 8-1 (10-11) Raced keenly in touch, driven and outpaced 3 out, weakened from next, 11th of 16, 22l behind Beshabar (11-2) at Ascot 2m 3f hcp hdl (2) gs in Feb.
Secret Dancer (IRE) 20-1 (10-12) Took keen hold, held up and always in rear, struggling when mistake 2 out, 5th of 6, 32l behind Zaynar (11-6) at Cheltenham 2m 4f hdl G2 (1) sft in Dec.
Thousand Stars (FR) 16-1 (11-3) Rear of mid-division on outer, some headway from 2 out, ridden and no impression straight, 14th of 30, 14l behind Puyol (10-10) at Leopardstown 2m ext hcp hdl hvy in Jan.
Keki Buku (FR) 10-1 (10-7) Held up in rear, no impression on leaders after 3 out, 5th of 13, 24l behind Micheal Flips (10-11) at Kempton 2m 5f hcp hdl (2) sft in Jan.
European Dream (IRE) 50-1 (10-6) Mid-division, weakened 4 out, 12th of 23, 22l behind Get Me Out Of Here (10-6) at Newbury 2m hcp hdl Grade 3 (1) gs in Feb.
Inventor (IRE) 8-13fav (11-11) Made all, ridden approaching last, ran on well, won at Musselburgh 2m nh nov hdl (4) gs in Jan beating Mister Wall Street (11-4) by 5l, 12 ran.
Zanir (FR) 6-1 (11-3) In touch, driven and outpaced 2 out, ridden and weakened last, 9th of 12, 22l behind Eradicate (10-13) at Musselburgh 2m hcp hdl 0-145 (2) gs in Feb.
Santa's Son (IRE) 33-1 (10-12) Chased leaders, lost place 3rd, in rear when blundered and fell 7th, in a race won by Kalahari King (11-12) at Doncaster 2m hcp chs (2) gs in Feb, 15 ran.
Izita Star 8-1 (11-0) Tracked leaders in 3rd, fell 10th, in a race won by Calusa Crystal (11-0) at Huntingdon 2m 4f Mares Novice Chase (4yo+) (4) gs in Dec, 3 ran.
Fushe Jo 33-1 (10-1) Mid-division, driven and weakened soon after 2 out, 16th of 23, 32l behind Get Me Out Of Here (10-6) at Newbury 2m hcp hdl Grade 3 (1) gs in Feb.
Arcalis 40-1 (10-5) Always in rear, tailed off 3 out, 11th of 13, well behind Beshabar (9-11) at Sandown 2m 6f hcp hdl Grade 3 (1) sft in Feb.
Gloucester 14-1 (9-9) Held up, headway approaching 3 out, chased winner approaching last, one pace, 2nd of 17, 2 1/4l behind Valain (10-11) at Ffos Las 2m hcp hdl (2) gd in Aug.
Stradbrook (IRE) 16-1 (11-0) Led until headed approaching 4th, stayed close up until weakened 3 out, 11th of 16, 18l behind Arctic Magic (10-2) at Cheltenham 2m 1f hcp hdl 0-120 (2) sft in Jan.
Oldrik (GER) 16-1 (10-8) Held up towards rear, mistake 3rd, headway 3 out, led next, ridden last, kept on until headed and no extra flat, 2nd of 23, 2l behind Qaspal (10-3) at Sandown 2m lst hcp hdl (0-150) (1) gs.
Pascha Bere (FR) 33-1 (10-8) Mid-division on inside, outpaced 2 out, never on terms, 6th of 23, 19l behind Qaspal (10-3) at Sandown 2m lst hcp hdl (0-150) (1) gs.
Tarkari (IRE) 5-2fav (10-2) Tracked leaders, 7th 3 out, 4th 2 out, 5th early straight, ridden to lead last, stayed on under pressure, won at Leopardstown 2m hcp hdl 0-140 sft in Feb beating Jigalo (10-1) by 1l, 20 ran.