Gordon Elliott has a fine recent record in the race and looks determined to keep up the sequence with three entries. Bryan Cooper would have had the choice between No More Heroes and Captain Von Trappe and has chosen the former which seems the logical choice as the high-class novice hurdler made a smooth transition to fences at Punchestown. The third of the Elliott brigade, Free Expression, gave 4lb and a beating to Shantou Flyer over hurdles at Navan a year ago and can have the edge over that rival again even though he's on a four-timer. The former had a ding-dong battle with OUTLANDER when both made their chasing debuts at Punchestown and though there were legitimate excuses for the runner-up it's Willie Mullins' charge who is taken to come out on top again. Monksland is an obvious threat to all as he followed a narrow defeat by Arctic Fire over hurdles at Navan with an impressive debut success over fences at Gowran where he jumped very well.
Captain Von Trappe (IRE) 9-2 (11-3) Settled 4th, 3rd after 8th, progress to lead narrowly 11th, close 3rd 12th, 4th at 13th, 2nd 4 out, headway to lead 3 out, soon pushed along, headed 2 out, soon ridden, kept on run-in, not match winner, 2nd of 6, 1 1/4l behind Shantou Flyer (11-6) at Punchestown 2m 6f (1) Soft - Heavy in Nov.
Free Expression (IRE) Evensfav (11-12) Close up, impeded before straight, challenged 2 out, soon not go with winner and rider briefly without right iron, renewed effort last, kept on well run-in without matching winner, 2nd of 17, 1 1/2l behind Outlander (11-12) at Punchestown 2m 4f sft in Nov.
Monksland (IRE) 5-2 (11-12) Tracked leaders, mistake 4th, 4th halfway, progress to lead 4 out, asserted after 2 out, pushed out and kept on well run-in, won at Gowran Park 2m 4f hvy in Nov beating Roi Des Francs (11-12) by 1 1/2l, 14 ran.
No More Heroes (IRE) 4-6fav (11-12) Prominent, led after 9th, joined briefly approaching 4 out, asserted from 2 out, stayed on well run-in, easily, won at Punchestown 2m 4f gd in Oct beating Futuramic (11-12) by 5l, 9 ran.
Rightdownthemiddle (IRE) 9-1 (11-3) Rear, 6th at 9th, progress to 4th at 12th, 3rd at 13th, dropped to 4th 2 out, no impression, kept on same pace, 4th of 6, 12 3/4l behind Shantou Flyer (11-6) at Punchestown 2m 6f (1) Soft - Heavy in Nov.
Shantou Flyer (IRE) 5-1 (11-6) Raced 3rd, 2nd at 3rd, almost on terms 11th, led narrowly 4 out, headed 3 out, regained lead 2 out, soon ridden, kept on strongly after last, driven out, won at Punchestown 2m 6f (1) Soft - Heavy in Nov beating Captain Von Trappe (11-3) by 1 1/4l, 6 ran.
Sub Lieutenant (IRE) 11-10fav (11-12) Tracked leaders, mistake 8th, 4th 4 out, ridden in 3rd entering straight, kept on same pace from before last, 3rd of 18, 13l behind Killer Miller (11-12) at Naas 2m 3f Yielding - Soft in Nov.
Outlander (IRE) 7-4fav (11-12) Close up, on terms approaching 4 out where slightly impeded, soon headed, on terms again approaching straight, led before 2 out, stayed on well run-in, won at Punchestown 2m 4f sft in Nov beating Free Expression (11-12) by 1 1/2l, 17 ran.