Paul Nicholls’ pair, Zarkandar and Aux Ptits Soins, are both looking to restore battered reputations but the former isn't getting any younger and the latter has been chasing. Desert Cry has returned to form with a vengeance lately, winning at Bangor and Ayr. But they were handicaps and Donald McCain’s 11-year-old has a mountain to climb at the weights in this, as does Anteros. AGRAPART has to concede weight all round courtesy of his narrow victory in this grade at Cheltenham but looks the most likely winner, even though the form of that race looks suspect. He won the Betfair Hurdle around this time last year and should stay this longer trip if Lizzie Kelly can get him settled.
Agrapart (FR) 16-1 (11-4) Tracked leader, mistake 7th, challenged 2 out, led before last, headed just after hurdle, edged left flat, rallied towards finish, led close home, won at Cheltenham 2m 4f (1) sft in Jan beating L'Ami Serge (11-0) by hd, 6 ran.
Anteros (IRE) 16-1 (11-6) Always in rear, tailed off 3 out, soon pulled up, at Chepstow 3m hcp (2) sft in Dec.
Aux Ptits Soins (FR) 10-11fav (11-6) In rear, blundered 7 out, weakened from 4 out, last of 4, dist behind Premier Bond (11-6) at Doncaster 3m (4) gd in Jan.
Desert Cry (IRE) 10-3 (11-12) Tracked leader, led after 4 out, clear from 3 out, easily, won at Ayr 2m 5f hcp (3) sft in Jan beating Only Orsenfoolsies (11-1) by 2 1/2l, 6 ran.
Zarkandar (IRE) 20-1 (11-7) Held up towards rear, good headway disputing 4th approaching 9th, pushed along and weakening in 7th place after next, 7th of 11, dist behind Unowhatimeanharry (11-7) at Ascot 3m (1) gs in Dec.