Secret Reprieve easily beat The Two Amigos in a trial for this over 3m at the track just over three weeks ago when Bobo Mac was third and Captain Drake was only fifth. The Two Amigos led for a long way when fifth in this last year but eventually finished behind both Yala Enki and Prime Venture. He is better off at the weights this time around but may still struggle to reverse those placings. The going will suit both Springfield Fox and Dominateur, who are both previous course winners and have had a pipe-opener, while Christmas In April is a dour stayer. Vieux Lion Rouge has a penalty for winning the Becher Chase at Aintree earlier this month but has won off a higher mark in the past. Truckers Lodge, winner of the Midlands Grand National in the spring, was travelling well when unseating his rider at Kelso and looks a threat to all but LORD DU MESNIL looks tailor-made for a race like this. Second over this trip in the National Hunt Chase in March, he’d earlier won over 3m4f in the mud at Haydock and both runs this season, one over hurdles, have been over trips much too short. Normally a sound jumper, conditions will hold no fears for Richard Hobson’s seven-year-old.
Yala Enki (FR) 15-2 (11-12) Chasing leaders when fell 1st, at Aintree 3m 2f hcp (1) sft in Dec.
Truckers Lodge (IRE) 9-2 (11-10) Jumped right at times, led until 7th, prominent when mistake and unseated rider 12th, at Kelso 3m 2f hcp (2) gd in Oct.
Ramses De Teillee (FR) 13-2 (11-6) Led until blundered and lost place 2nd, rallied to lead again 5th until next, led again 8th, hit 10th, lost 2nd 11th, chased leaders, pecked badly 13th (bechers), weakened next (canal turn), 7th of 14, dist behind Vieux Lion Rouge (10-7) at Aintree 3m 2f hcp (1) sft in Dec.
Lord Du Mesnil (FR) 16-1 (11-12) Mid-division, weakened and towards rear when mistake 14th, 9th of 18, dist behind Beau Bay (10-5) at Aintree 2m 5f hcp (2) sft in Dec.
The Hollow Ginge (IRE) 50-1 (10-8) Held up towards rear, headway approaching 4 out, ridden and went 4th after 2 out, plugged on, 4th of 18, 14l behind Cloth Cap (10-0) at Newbury 3m 2f hcp (1) gd in Nov.
Vieux Lion Rouge (FR) 12-1 (10-7) Held up towards rear, headway chasing leaders 11th, led 2 out, clear before last, stayed on strongly, won at Aintree 3m 2f hcp (1) sft in Dec beating Kimberlite Candy (11-6) by 24l, 14 ran.
Springfield Fox 11-8 (10-12) Led, pressed and headed briefly 7th, led 4 out, driven before 3 out, pressed 2 out, headed before last, held in 2nd last, no match for the winner, 2nd of 3, 5 1/2l behind Oscar Elite (11-5) at Chepstow 3m (4) hvy in Dec.
The Two Amigos 9-2 (11-11) Disputed lead, led narrowly after 4 out (usually 5 out), ridden along and headed 2 out (usually 3 out), no more, 2nd of 11, 12l behind Secret Reprieve (10-13) at Chepstow 3m hcp (2) hvy in Dec.
Big River (IRE) 16-1 (10-13) Chased leaders, lost place before 5th, headway 16th, outpaced before 3 out, soon well held, went 3rd flat, 3rd of 6, 35 1/4l behind Ramses De Teillee (11-5) at Cheltenham 3m 3f hcp (1) sft in Nov.
Dominateur (FR) 18-1 (11-2) Tracked leader and always third, mistake 13th, not fluent 14th and 15th, slightly detached following error at 15th, regrouped and tracked front pair after 4 out, not fluent 3 out, soon detached, pushed along and no extra closing stages, last of 3, 16 1/2l behind Pym (11-2) at Sandown 3m lst (1) gd in Nov.
Captain Drake (IRE) 14-1 (11-9) Tracked leaders, ridden approaching 4 out (usually 5 out), weakened after 3 out (usually 4 out), 5th of 11, 33 1/2l behind Secret Reprieve (10-13) at Chepstow 3m hcp (2) hvy in Dec.
Prime Venture (IRE) 9-4 (11-6) Jumped well, tracked leader, led on inside 3 out, clear after next, stayed on well, very easily, won at Sedgefield 3m 2f hcp (3) gs in Nov beating Jack Devine (11-0) by 16l, 3 ran.
Joe Farrell (IRE) 33-1 (10-4) Chased leaders on inside, mistake 2nd, mid-division when slightly hampered 13th (bechers), no chance when hit last, 6th of 14, dist behind Vieux Lion Rouge (10-7) at Aintree 3m 2f hcp (1) sft in Dec.
Christmas In April (FR) 11-4fav (11-12) Led early, disputed lead throughout, lost position and 4th 3 out, stayed on to regain 2nd on run-in but no chance with easy winner, 2nd of 7, 13l behind Cloudy Glen (11-9) at Fontwell 3m 4f hcp (3) hvy in Nov.
Bobo Mac (IRE) 28-1 (11-4) In rear, headway approaching 4 out (usually 5 out), took third after 3 out (usually 4 out), stayed on gamely from 2 out (usually 3 out), 3rd of 11, 14 3/4l behind Secret Reprieve (10-13) at Chepstow 3m hcp (2) hvy in Dec.
Secret Reprieve (IRE) 5-1 (10-13) Tracked leaders, travelled and jumped well, pressed leader 3 out (usually 4 out), led 2 out (usually 3 out), drew clear on the run to the last, comfortable, won at Chepstow 3m hcp (2) hvy in Dec beating The Two Amigos (11-11) by 12l, 11 ran.
Didero Vallis (FR) 5-1fav (10-6) Chased leaders out wide, lost place before 9th, towards rear and never on terms after, 8th of 18, dist behind Beau Bay (10-5) at Aintree 2m 5f hcp (2) sft in Dec.
Alminar (IRE) 12-1 (10-9) Mid-division, not fluent 9th, ridden and held before 4 out, pulled up before 4 out, at Haydock 3m 4f hcp (3) hvy in Nov.