ASK HIMSELF was only caught in the closing stages at Hereford last month and looks sure to be opening his account over hurdles sooner rather than later. That comment also applies to Uttoxeter runner-up Captain Blackpearl, whose recent placed effort came over a longer trip. Elf De Re returned to action with a decent third over track and trip and is another to consider ahead of Tarset Hinny, who may well improve on her second outing after wind surgery and is preferred to Heartbreak Kid.
Ask Himself (IRE) 2-1jfav (10-12) Led, 4 lengths clear flat, driven flat, headed close home, 2nd of 12, 1/2l behind Shanacoole Prince (10-12) at Hereford 2m (4) sft in Nov.
Broadway Joe (IRE) 20-1 (10-12) Always towards rear, never a factor, 6th of 11, dist behind Minella Trump (10-12) at Sedgefield 2m 1f (4) sft in Nov.
Cool Country (IRE) 9-2 (11-11) Alw last, mstk 7th, rdn aftr 5out, to frm 4out, pu bef 3out, at Inchydoney 3m mdn fm in May.
Destiny Is All (IRE) 40-1 (10-12) Prominent, lost place before 7th, not fluent next, well beaten after, 5th of 6, dist behind Thomas Macdonagh (10-12) at Hexham 2m 4f mdn (4) hvy in Nov.
Elf De Re (FR) 20-1 (11-0) In touch, headway 3 out, chased leaders next, kept on same pace closing stages, 3rd of 13, 5 1/4l behind Do Not Disturb (11-0) at Kelso 2m mdn (4) gs in Oct.
Elu Secret (FR) 25-1 (11-0) Tracked leader, lost place approaching 3 out, tailed off, 9th of 10, dist behind Victory Echo (11-0) at Ayr 2m 4f mdn (5) hvy in Nov.
Heartbreak Kid (IRE) Evensfav (11-0) Tracked winner, ridden 2 out, weakened and lost 2nd run-in, 3rd of 7, 27l behind Timeforaspin (11-0) at Bangor-on-Dee 2m 1f mdn (5) hvy in Nov.
Mill Island (IRE) 50-1 (10-12) Held up in rear, mistake 4th, weakened after 4 out, 6th of 10, dist behind Ribble Valley (10-12) at Hexham 2m (4) hvy in Nov.
Lissen To The Lady (IRE) 50-1 (10-5) Jumped slowly in rear, mistake 3rd, weakened 4 out, tailed off, 8th of 10, dist behind Ribble Valley (10-12) at Hexham 2m (4) hvy in Nov.
Tarset Hinny (IRE) 16-1 (10-9) Set steady pace, ridden and headed 4f out, weakened over 1f out, 6th of 9, 12 1/2l behind Dusty's Choice (11-2) at Ayr 2m (5) sft in Oct.
Whoa Black Betty (IRE) 66-1 (10-12) Mid-division, driven 3 out, kept on same pace, no chance with clear leaders, 6th of 11, 23 3/4l behind Rosie And Millie (10-12) at Ayr 2m mdn (5) sft in Nov.
Empire Steel (IRE) 7-2 (12-3) Pr, 3rd 1/2way, prog frm 3out, nt mtch ldrs bef last, kow to line, 3rd of 12, 8 1/2l behind Premier D'troice (11-11) at Loughrea 3m mdn gd in May.
Captain Blackpearl 11-4 (11-0) Soon chasing leader, led and hit 3 out, headed last, ridden and no extra flat, 2nd of 8, 2 1/2l behind Orrisdale (11-0) at Uttoxeter 2m 4f mdn (5) hvy in Nov.