Flying Angel has failed to complete since winning at Perth in September and it remains to be seen how well Charmix fares after opening his account over fences at Hereford last month. Both carry a penalty which should hand the advantage to GALA BALL (NAP). The latter lost a shoe when fading badly in the closing stages at Warwick last time but has shown promise on his earlier chasing bow at Bangor when finishing runner-up ahead of three subsequent winners. Minella Charmer was still going well when falling at Wetherby on his chasing bow while Bivouac last won over hurdles in 2015 and has his first start over fences today.
Charmix (FR) 5-4fav (10-12) Led until after 1st, with leader, not fluent 11th or 12th, shaken up 3 out, not fluent 2 out, soon narrow lead, went left last, ridden out, won at Hereford 2m 5f (4) sft in Jan beating Dig Deeper (10-12) by 3/4l, 6 ran.
Bivouac (FR) 50-1 (11-9) Tracked leaders, ridden and struggling after 8th, pulled up before normal 2 out, at Cheltenham 2m 4f hcp (2) gd in Mar.
Gala Ball (IRE) 7-2 (11-0) Blundered 1st, tracked leader, not fluent 4 out, driven after next, ridden when lost place before 2 out, no chance with front pair after, tailed off, 3rd of 5, 25 1/4l behind Buveur D'air (11-6) at Warwick 2m (4) sft in Dec.
In The Tub (IRE) 200-1 (11-0) In rear, behind 6th, tailed off 8th, pulled up after, at Warwick 3m lst (1) sft in Jan.
Minella Charmer (IRE) 9-2 (11-0) Tracked leaders, headway after 5 out, in 2nd and going well when fell 4 out, at Wetherby 2m 3f (3) gs in Dec.
Swincombe Scorchio 40-1 (11-0) Chased leaders on outside, mistake and lost place 2nd, reminder 3rd, behind 10th, tailed off 12th, 5th of 9, dist behind Mystical Knight (11-0) at Hereford 3m 1f (4) sft in Dec.
Flying Angel (IRE) 8-1 (11-7) Held up in last pair, struggling 10th, lost touch when pulled up before 4 out, at Cheltenham 2m 4f (2) gd in Nov.