Barbers Shop gets the selection here, with Ballyvoge and Secret Ploy looking to be the main dangers. Racing in the colours of The Queen, the selection won his last race in good style with Pantalaimon back in second. The last-named is 6lbs better off today and will appreciate the step up to three miles, but so will the selection. His bumper win showed that he handles this ground, so he could take this on his way to better things. Dual-winning pointer Ballyvoge still looked green when winning on his hurdling debut and should come on for that run, however this is a lot tougher today so we will reluctantly pass him over, although it is evident that he has a bright future. Secret Ploy made a pleasing return from almost two years off the track at Bangor three weeks ago and should be fitter for that run. He must rate a live danger based on his old form and he is one who will appreciate the testing conditions. Triggernometry will need to step up on previous efforts to make the frame here, whilst Irish Guard could be anything but will need to be fit after a lengthy layoff. In an intriguing contest then, Barbers Shop gets the tentative vote.
Barbers Shop 11-8fav (11-0) Mid-division, headway to track leader 7th, left in lead on bend after 8th, drew clear approaching last, ridden out, won at Ascot 2m 6f nh mdn hdl (3) gd in Dec beating Pantalaimon (11-0) by 5l, 16 ran.
Ballyvoge (IRE) 1-2fav (10-12) Not fluent, tracked leader, led 8th, hard pressed from 2 out, soon ridden, edged left and stayed on well flat, won at Newcastle 3m mdn hdl (4) gs in Nov beating Fastaffaran (10-9) by 4l, 11 ran.
Irish Guard 5-1 (11-2) Made all, clear approaching 2 out, unchallenged, won at Towcester 2m 3f mdn hdl (4) hvy in May beating Cemgraft (10-9) by 28l, 8 ran.
Pantalaimon 25-1 (11-0) Held up towards rear, headway 8th to track leaders, outpaced 3 out, stayed on approaching last, went 2nd close home, 2nd of 16, 5l behind Barbers Shop (11-0) at Ascot 2m 6f nh mdn hdl (3) gd in Dec.
Secret Ploy 10-11fav (10-9) Mid-division, tracked leaders halfway, ridden at every chance last, not quicken towards finish, 2nd of 12, hd behind Shrewd Investor (10-12) at Bangor 3m mdn hdl (4) sft in Dec.
Triggernometry 6-1 (10-12) Held up in mid-division, headway 8th, led 3 out, ridden and headed 2 out, switched left last, soon no chance with leaders, 3rd of 16, 13l behind Leading Attraction (10-7) at Wincanton 2m 6f nov hdl (4) gd in Nov.