MONKFISH beat Latest Exhibition a neck over 3m in the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham and by 3 lengths in the Grade 1 Neville Hotels Chase over that trip in December. The latter is himself a Grade 1 winner over timber having won at this fixture a year ago. The drop in trip shouldn't be a problem for either but Willie Mullins' charge again looks the one to beat. His stable companion Asterion Forlonge, a high-class hurdler, made mistakes when making a successful chasing debut at Punchestown but paid for them in subsequent starts though a clear round could see him causing an upset. Andy Dufresne arrives in excellent form having won both starts over fences and was only a couple of lengths behind Latest Exhibition in a Grade 2 hurdle at Navan just over a year ago.
Andy Dufresne (IRE) 8-15fav (11-2) Soon disputed lead, led from 2nd, pressed and jumped left 2 out, jumped left again last, stayed on well under pressure to assert run-in, won at Navan 2m 1f (1) sft in Dec beating Embittered (11-2) by 3l, 3 ran.
Assemble 22-1 (11-12) Prominent, dropped to 4th before 5th, progress at 10th where left 2nd, dropped to 3rd and pushed along after 3 out, ridden and weakened before 2 out , mistake and fell at last, at Limerick 2m 4f (1) hvy in Dec.
Asterion Forlonge (FR) 15-8 (11-3) Led, fell 1st, at Punchestown 2m 4f (1) hvy in Jan.
Fils D'oudairies (FR) 25-1 (11-3) Tracked leaders, left 2nd from 1st, almost on terms from before 2 out, pushed along before straight, soon under pressure, no impression run-in, kept on without matching winner, 2nd of 5, 3 1/2l behind Envoi Allen (12-0) at Punchestown 2m 4f (1) hvy in Jan.
Janidil (FR) 11-2 (11-12) Held up in rear, slight mistake at 6th, left 4th at 10th, not fluent 3 out, headway in 3rd before 2 out, no impression on leaders after 2 out, bad mistake at last, no extra, 3rd of 5, 16 1/2l behind Colreevy (11-5) at Limerick 2m 4f (1) hvy in Dec.
Latest Exhibition (IRE) 4-1 (11-12) Towards rear, took closer order before 6th, 3rd after 7th, bumped at 9th, improved to 2nd after 10th, challenged 2 out, every chance at last, ridden and kept on, not match winner, 2nd of 6, 3l behind Monkfish (11-12) at Leopardstown 3m (1) Yielding in Dec.
Macgiloney (IRE) 11-1 (10-13) Slight mistake 1st, mid-division, 10th after 3rd, not fluent 10th, 14th after 11th, slight mistake 5 out, some headway and kept on same pace straight, 9th of 19, 28l behind Dromore Lad (10-10) at Cork 3m 4f hcp sft in Nov.
Monkfish (IRE) 1-2fav (11-12) Led narrowly, headed before 3rd, not fluent at 4th, closed at 7th, jumped right and bumped rival at 9th, led at 10th, 2 lengths clear 3 out, pressed 2 out, ridden and kept on best run-in, won at Leopardstown 3m (1) Yielding in Dec beating Latest Exhibition (11-12) by 3l, 6 ran.
Conflated (IRE) 15-2 (11-12) Chased leader, 4th after 7th, not fluent at 10th, 3rd at 11th, no impression after 2 out, weakened to 4th before last where left moderate 3rd, tailed off, 3rd of 6, dist behind Monkfish (11-12) at Leopardstown 3m (1) Yielding in Dec.