Yet another graded race this season dominated by the Mullins and Elliott legions. Ireland’s leading National Hunt yards are responsible for 10 of the 13 entries between them, though Bleu Et Rouge was due to run at Cork yesterday. Renneti was race-fit when winning last year’s renewal but returns from a lay-off today. Mullins probably has a better chance with Coquin Mans and Bapaume, though the latter was easily brushed aside by Diamond Cauchois at Navan in February along with Lieutenant Colonel. Rachael Blackmore’s mount was worn down close home by JEZKI at Leopardstown last month and is now 7lb worse off. Jessica Harrington’s 10-year-old may not be quite as good as in his heyday but he’s still more than capable at this level and readily outpaced Coquin Mans over 2m in a Grade 3 at Tipperary in the autumn, though is now 7lb worse off. Identity Thief was an honourable fourth in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham but didn’t appear to stay this far at Aintree last year and was beaten by the tough and consistent Forge Meadow in a Grade 3 at Gowran in February.
Bapaume (FR) 6-4 (11-8) Tracked leaders in 3rd, 2nd before straight, soon on terms, led before 3 out, headed between last 2, no extra and one pace from before last, dropped to 3rd run-in, 3rd of 4, 12 1/2l behind Diamond Cauchois (11-3) at Navan 2m 5f (1) Soft - Heavy in Feb.
Bleu Berry (FR) 20-1 (11-2) Held up behind, headway before 3 out, driven to chase leaders after next, ridden before last, challenged flat, stayed on to lead narrowly inside final 100 yards, held on, won at Cheltenham 2m 5f hcp (1) sft in Mar beating Topofthegame (11-9) by nk, 26 ran.
Diamond Cauchois (FR) 4-6fav (11-3) Tracked leader, slight mistake 7th, 3rd before straight, challenged 3 out travelling smoothly, led between last 2, asserted from before last, stayed on well run-in, comfortably, won at Navan 2m 5f (1) Soft - Heavy in Feb beating Lieutenant Colonel (11-3) by 9l, 4 ran.
Renneti (FR) (9-4) 4th of 9, 11 1/4l behind Ice Breeze (8-10) at Saint-Cloud 1m 7f Grp 1 sft in Oct.
Coquin Mans (FR) 3-10fav (11-10) Tracked leader, mainly 2nd, took keen hold, on terms 4 out, led from next, joined briefly until led approaching straight travelling smoothly, slipped up approaching 2 out, at Clonmel 3m Soft - Heavy in Dec.
Jezki (IRE) 11-10fav (11-10) Tracked leaders in 3rd, dropped to 4th on inner and short of room entering straight, soon switched right and pushed along, close 2nd and bad mistake at last, improved to lead inside final furlong, stayed on well, won at Leopardstown 2m 2f sft in Mar beating Lieutenant Colonel (11-0) by 2l, 5 ran.
Augusta Kate 20-1 (11-3) Held up in mid-division, lost place after 3 out, soon closed up again, lost place approaching last, 9th of 15, 14l behind Penhill (11-10) at Cheltenham 3m (1) sft in Mar.
Lieutenant Colonel 13-8 (11-2) Raced in 2nd, slight mistake 3rd, led from 4 out, pushed along from 2 out, pressed and kept on well under pressure run-in, won at Cork 2m Soft - Heavy in Mar beating Karalee (11-0) by 1 1/4l, 4 ran.
Forge Meadow (IRE) 7-4 (11-3) Led, slight mistake 5th, slight mistake 3 out, ridden and pressed when slight mistake 2 out, soon narrowly headed, disputed again last, led run-in and kept on well under pressure, won at Gowran Park 2m (1) hvy in Feb beating Identity Thief (11-1) by 1 1/2l, 6 ran.
Let's Dance (FR) 33-1 (11-3) Held up towards rear, fell 9th, at Cheltenham 3m (1) sft in Mar.
Barra (FR) 16-1 (10-10) Held up towards rear, headway after 4 out, ridden to challenge before last, kept on and every chance flat, no extra in 3rd towards finish, 3rd of 26, 1 1/2l behind Bleu Berry (11-2) at Cheltenham 2m 5f hcp (1) sft in Mar.
Bleu Et Rouge (FR) 10-1 (11-12) Held up in mid-division, headway 2 out, ridden and lost place before last, weakened, 14th of 24, 19 1/4l behind Mohaayed (10-11) at Cheltenham 2m 1f hcp (1) sft in Mar.
Identity Thief (IRE) 50-1 (11-10) Chased leaders, mistake and lost place 4th, hit next and lost further ground, kept on before last, went 4th flat but no chance with leaders, 4th of 11, 12 1/4l behind Buveur D'Air (11-10) at Cheltenham 2m (1) hvy in Mar.