held up disputing 5th, dropped to last and off pace at halfway, pushed along in last after 3 out, ridden entering straight, headway into 3rd at last, kept on same pace inside final furlong
disputed lead early, headed 2nd, not fluent at 3rd, slight mistake 4 out, dropped to 4th briefly 3 out and pushed along, disputed 2nd on inner when checked entering straight, ridden and dropped to last before last, no impression
held up disputing 5th, 5th at halfway, headway travelling well on outer entering straight, ridden in 2nd at last, strongly pressed winner inside final furlong, kept on same pace close home
Richard Johnson has come over to ride the exciting LA BAGUE AU ROI, the winner of 13 of her 18 starts including all three over fences. She made the transition into Grade 1 company in the Kauto Star at Kempton and her allowance can see her remain unbeaten over the bigger obstacles. Delta Work has an almost identical profile though he's won two Grade 1's including over 3m here last time when beating Mortal by 8l. He'll be a real tough nut to crack while Winter Escape has been doing everything right and deserves a crack at this level after his two Grade 3 victories. Hardline beat the odds-on Getabird in a Grade 1 at Limerick on St Stephen's Day and is another to consider in what should be a cracking race.
Hardline (IRE) 9-2 (11-10) Chased leaders and close in 3rd from 3 out, pushed along in 2nd before next and led shortly after last, kept on well run-in, won at Limerick 2m 4f (1) sft in Dec beating Getabird (11-10) by 1/2l, 7 ran.
Jetz (IRE) 7-2 (11-1) Led, a little slow 2nd and headed, soon raced in 2nd, a little slow 3rd, jumped left 4th, on terms approaching 3 out, headed into straight, soon no impression in 3rd, not fluent last, one pace, 3rd of 7, 15 1/4l behind Winter Escape (11-8) at Punchestown 2m 4f (1) gd in Jan.
Kaiser Black (IRE) 7-2fav (11-10) Chased leaders and 4th from 5 out, improved to challenge from 3 out and led next, ridden and went a few lengths clear before last, kept on well run-in, won at Roscommon 3m 1f hcp gd in Jun beating Master Appeal (10-13) by 4l, 15 ran.
Mortal (IRE) 7-1 (11-10) Towards rear, headway after 3 out and went 2nd after 2 out, switched left and pushed along approaching last where mistake, ridden and no impression on winner run-in, 2nd of 7, 8l behind Delta Work (11-10) at Leopardstown 3m (1) gd in Dec.
Winter Escape (IRE) 12-1 (11-8) Waited with, 6th after 4th, slight mistake 10th, progress into 3rd approaching straight, soon 2nd, challenged approaching last, quickly led and jumped slightly left, ridden and stayed on well to assert run-in, eased near finish, won at Punchestown 2m 4f (1) gd in Jan beating A Plus Tard (10-8) by 2 1/4l, 7 ran.
La Bague Au Roi (FR) 8-1 (11-0) Prominent, led 12th, mistake and headed 3 out, soon ridden, led again last, stayed on gamely, won at Kempton 3m (1) gs in Dec beating Topofthegame (11-7) by 1 1/2l, 7 ran.
Delta Work (FR) 8-15fav (11-10) Towards rear, slight mistake 1st, hampered 5th, some headway after 7th and 3rd halfway, slight mistake 10th, progress to lead 3 out, edged right approaching last, ridden to assert run-in and drew clear closing stages, won at Leopardstown 3m (1) gd in Dec beating Mortal (11-10) by 8l, 7 ran.
Riders Onthe Storm (IRE) 25-1 (11-10) Towards rear early, improved to chase leaders in 3rd from 6th and went 2nd after 8th, dropped to 3rd before 2 out and soon no extra, kept on same pace from before last, 3rd of 7, 21 1/2l behind Hardline (11-10) at Limerick 2m 4f (1) sft in Dec.