It is something of a concern that Secret Reprieve hasn’t run since landing this last season and he is also 6lb higher. But he still looks the best of the four previous winners of the race trying their luck again. Irish raider The Big Dog should go well having won over 3m4f on soft going at Punchestown at the start of the year and Highland Hunter and Deise Aba finished 1-2 in the London National at Sandown earlier this month. Hill Sixteen just failed to catch Snow Leopardess in the Becher Chase at Aintree where Achille finished fifth and Kimberlite Candy was seventh. Mac Tottie fell but had earlier won the Grand Sefton over the National fences and shapes as though he’ll stay this far. IWILLDOIT won a recognised trial for this on the track and could not have been more impressive. He is out of the handicap but conditions are in his favour again and he could take all the beating. Hold That Taught is unexposed while any market support for Jessica Harrington’s Discordantly should be noted, despite ordinary form figures.
Native River (IRE) 5-2fav (11-6) Disputed lead, not fluent and headed 5th, remained close up, hit 6th, led again before 11th, pressed 5 out, pushed along and headed 4 out, left behind by winner after 3 out, kept on one pace, 2nd of 8, 25l behind Protektorat (11-3) at Aintree 3m 1f (1) sft in Dec.
Elegant Escape (IRE) 66-1 (11-9) Chased leaders, ridden and weakened after 4 out, 7th of 11, 21 1/4l behind Samarrive (10-7) at Sandown 2m hcp lst (1) gs in Dec.
Kimberlite Candy (IRE) 11-1 (11-0) Front mid-division, ridden 6 out, gradually faded from 3 out, 7th of 21, 29 1/2l behind Snow Leopardess (10-4) at Aintree 3m 2f hcp (1) sft in Dec.
Truckers Lodge (IRE) 12-1 (11-12) Raced handy, ridden before 5 out, plugged on one pace, 5th of 10, dist behind Iwilldoit (10-6) at Chepstow 3m hcp (2) gs in Dec.
Mighty Thunder 66-1 (11-4) Towards rear, dropped to last after 10th, left in remote fifth 3 out, plugged on one pace, 4th of 7, 28 1/4l behind Fusil Raffles (11-0) at Wetherby 3m (1) gs in Oct.
Highland Hunter (IRE) 9-1 (11-12) Chased leaders, stumbled badly 18th, outpaced 3 out (normal 4 out), rallied bypassing omitted 3 out, challenged on outside last, soon led, ridden and strongly pressed all the way to the line, battled on gamely, all out, won at Sandown 3m 5f hcp (2) gs in Dec beating Deise Aba (11-7) by ns, 10 ran.
The Big Dog (IRE) 16-1 (10-13) Always towards rear, never a factor, 17th of 23, 30 1/4l behind Commander Of Fleet (11-10) at Navan 3m hcp Yielding in Dec.
Ramses De Teillee (FR) 4-1 (12-2) Led, strongly pressed before 4 out, pushed along 3 out, ridden and still led narrowly after 2 out, headed before last, kept on one pace, 4th of 7, 4l behind Strictlyadancer (10-5) at Haydock 3m 2f hcp (2) gs in Nov.
Mac Tottie 15-2 (10-6) Prominent, fell 6th (chair), at Aintree 3m 2f hcp (1) sft in Dec.
Achille (FR) 13-2 (10-5) Handy, went 2nd 16th (valentines), ridden and no extra after 3 out, kept on one pace, 5th of 21, 23l behind Snow Leopardess (10-4) at Aintree 3m 2f hcp (1) sft in Dec.
Secret Reprieve (IRE) 5-2fav (10-1) Held up in mid-division, headway 14th, went 2nd 5 out, led 3 out, girth soon became undone and saddle started to slip slightly back, clear flat, stayed on well, won at Chepstow 3m 7f hcp (1) sft in Jan beating The Two Amigos (10-9) by 3l, 18 ran.
Discordantly (IRE) 12-1 (10-13) Tracked leaders, dropped to mid-division and pushed along at 13th, ridden in 9th 3 out, no impression, 6th of 16, 16l behind Run Wild Fred (11-6) at Navan 3m hcp gd in Nov.
Deise Aba (IRE) 10-3fav (11-7) Chased leaders, went 2nd 13th, pushed along and lost 2nd bypassing omitted 3 out, chased leaders, went 2nd again at the last, strong challenge and every chance edging left under pressure all the way to the line, just failed, 2nd of 10, shd behind Highland Hunter (11-12) at Sandown 3m 5f hcp (2) gs in Dec.
Hold That Taught 85-40fav (11-5) Handy, not fluent 3rd, led narrowly 13th, bad mistake 14th, strongly pressed thereafter until asserted before last, stayed on well, won at Carlisle 3m 2f hcp (3) sft in Oct beating Christmas In April (11-11) by 3 1/2l, 9 ran.
Colorado Doc 9-2 (10-10) Raced in mid-division, headway before 3 out, ridden 3 out, stayed on but never getting to winner, eased closing stages, 2nd of 10, 24l behind Iwilldoit (10-6) at Chepstow 3m hcp (2) gs in Dec.
Iwilldoit 12-1 (10-6) Led, ridden 4 out, extended advantage 3 out, powered clear after last, never in danger, won at Chepstow 3m hcp (2) gs in Dec beating Colorado Doc (10-10) by 24l, 10 ran.
Eva's Oskar (IRE) 13-2 (10-11) Tracked leading pair, went 2nd soon after 4 out, well there when hit 2 out, rallied under pressure run-in, soon hung right, no extra final 150 yards, 2nd of 6, 2l behind Corach Rambler (10-13) at Cheltenham 3m 1f hcp (3) gs in Dec.
Captain Drake (IRE) 14-1 (11-12) Towards rear, bad mistake in mid-division 5 out, soon ridden and went 6th before 4 out, plugged on one pace, 4th of 11, 22 1/2l behind Jersey Bean (11-12) at Haydock 3m 4f hcp (3) gs in Nov.
Hill Sixteen 14-1 (10-0) Towards rear, mid-division 8th, went 2nd 3 out going ok, ridden after last, kept on well to strongly press leader close home, just denied, 2nd of 21, shd behind Snow Leopardess (10-4) at Aintree 3m 2f hcp (1) sft in Dec.
Potters Corner (IRE) 14-1 (10-0) Chased leaders, went 2nd 4th until 13th, 2nd again 16th, led 20th, ridden and strongly pressed run-in, headed post, 2nd of 15, shd behind Diesel D'Allier (10-2) at Cheltenham 3m 6f hcp (2) gs in Dec.