An intriguing opener with some talented individuals and unknown quantities, but we side with LIMBO KING to show the benefit of experience after two promising runs to date. Troque, Trenchant and Whisky Magic make the shortlist and should not be discounted. Francois Doumen sent Troque to Kempton at Christmas, and this winning hurdler in France acquitted himself well in handicap company, finishing a close fourth in a big field. That was a sound effort but he concedes weight to his rivals for that French success, and the ground may not be as testing as he would like. Whisky Magic was well beaten behind the top class Mad Max at Newbury in a bumper, but won in November after a long break in the style of a useful type, making all the running and quickening away from his field. That was a very good performance after a lay off and he was an expensive purchase-he looks a live threat even under a penalty. Trenchant makes his hurdling bow for Alan King, and ran a decent race to be second in a stayers¿ event on the Flat in October, but he may just lack a finishing kick over this minimum trip-he was rated 67 on the Flat. Tony McCoy is having a purple patch and is riding at the top of his form. He takes the mount on Limbo King, who has shaped well on both his starts to date, and his experience and the weight he receives should enable Limbo King to make it third time lucky.
Troque (FR) 12-1 (11-0) Took keen hold in midfield, not much room and switched right approaching 2 out, chased leaders before last, stayed on same pace flat, 4th of 15, 4l behind Ingratitude (11-9) at Kempton 2m hcp hdl 0-130 (3) gd in Dec.
Whisky Magic (FR) 11-2 (10-12) Led after 1st, made rest, hit 6th, clear until next, stayed on well from last, won at Market Rasen 2m 3f nh nov hdl (4) sft in Nov beating Oscar Honey (10-9) by 4l, 9 ran.
Badly Bruised (IRE) 50-1 (11-0) Held up in rear, mistake 8th, struggling from 9th, 7th of 15, 47l behind Bluegun (10-7) at Uttoxeter 2m 4f mdn hdl (4) sft in Apr.
Basis Point (IRE) 40-1 (11-2) Held up towards rear, headway 5f out, weakened 3f out, 6th of 16, 21l behind Flemmingsbond (11-2) at Ludlow 2m nhf (4) gs in Nov.
Bold Adventure 66-1 (11-4) Always in rear, ridden and struggling before 2 out, tailed off, 7th of 10, 49l behind Circus of Dreams (11-4) at Folkestone 2m 1f nov hdl (4) sft in Dec.
Cold Harbour 7-1 (10-12) Tracked leaders, ridden 3 out and weakened, 10th of 14, well behind Great Endeavour (11-8) at Towcester 2m 5f nh nov hdl (3) sft in Nov.
Formedable (IRE) 66-1 (10-12) Behind, under pressure when blundered and lost touch 8th, tailed off, 7th of 8, well behind Aux Le Bahnn (10-12) at Plumpton 2m 5f nh nov hdl (4) hvy in Dec.
Hohlethelonely 40-1 (10-9) Mid-division, headway when mistake 5th, effort after 3 out, soon weakened, 10th of 14, 23l behind Clova Island (10-7) at Taunton 2m 1f nov hdl (3) sft in Dec.
Limbo King 15-8jt-fav (10-12) Chased clear leader, hit 3 out, led 2 out, soon ridden, headed last, kept on same pace, 2nd of 11, 8l behind Teddy's Reflection (10-12) at Fontwell 2m 2f nov hdl (4) sft in Dec.
Murphy (IRE) 25-1 (11-0) Led, slow jump 3rd, ridden and headed 2 out, weakened before last, 6th of 14, 19l behind Clay Hollister (11-0) at Sandown 2m nh nov hdl (3) gs in Dec.
Persian Storm (GER) (8-11) Made most to over 2f out, weakened 1f out, 6th of 7, 4 1/2l behind Gris De Gris (8-11) at Saint-Cloud 1m Grp 3 in May (Flat).
Piper's Song (IRE) 66-1 (10-11) Held up, headway and every chance 3 out, soon ridden and weakened, 5th of 6, 23l behind Red Moloney (11-5) at Musselburgh 2m hdl (3) gd in Dec.
Royal Premier (IRE) 40-1 (10-12) Mid-division, chased leaders 4 out, soon weakened, 7th of 13, 25l behind Midsummer Magic (10-9) at Fakenham 2m mdn hdl (5) gd.
The Dodger Carey (IRE) 9-1 (11-12) Tracked leaders, 4th 3 out, ridden in 3rd entering straight, kept on same pace, 3rd of 22, 19l behind The Gloves Are Off (11-10) at Punchestown 2m mdn hdl hvy in Jan '08.
Silver Bank 10-1 (10-13) Held up in touch, weakened 5th, tailed off 3 out, 9th of 16, 48l behind Surprise Pension (11-6) at Catterick 2m mdn hdl (4) gs in Dec.
Simply Sunshine (IRE) 12-1 (10-7) Held up mid-division, ridden approaching 3 out, soon weakened, 7th of 14, well behind Jenny Potts (10-7) at Wetherby 2m mrs nov hdl (4) gs in Nov.
Trenchant 20-1 (8-13) Held up towards rear, pushed along over 4f out, headway over 2f out, chased winner over 1f out, edged left kept on same pace, 2nd of 12, 2l behind Silk Hall (9-6) at Great Leighs 1m 6f 3yo hcp (5) pol in Oct (Flat).