Balgemmois displayed notable improvement to score here last month and has an obvious claim of following up if repeating that level off a 4lb higher mark. He moves up to 3m for the first time though, which places a question mark against his chance. He may actually improve for the increase in distance but CUBAN PETE is preferred. He houses no such stamina issues and could well have more to come after just three starts over fences, having performed satisfactorily the last twice in higher grade contests. Cougar's Gold is a pretty consistent performer at this level and is shortlisted, whilst Smuggler's Blues reappears after a break and is not ruled out.
Smuggler's Blues (IRE) 5-1 (12-0) Jumped right, led to 2 out, soon ridden, weakened last, 5th of 6, 27 1/2l behind Joueur Bresilien (12-0) at Ffos Las 2m 5f hcp (4) sft in Oct.
Holbrook Park 25-1 (11-5) Towards rear, bumped 3rd, not fluent next, mistake and behind 4 out, tailed off, 8th of 9, dist behind Cap Du Nord (11-9) at Fakenham 2m 5f hcp (3) gs in Jan.
Cuban Pete (IRE) 5-2fav (10-12) Held up towards rear, effort on outside 4 out, 4th 2 out, no impression, 4th of 8, 14l behind Iwilldoit (11-10) at Kelso 2m 6f hcp (3) sft in Dec.
Balgemmois (FR) 11-2 (11-12) In touch, went 2nd from 3 out, ridden after last, kept on to lead towards finish, won at Market Rasen 2m 5f hcp (4) sft in Jan beating Two Hoots (10-2) by 1/2l, 9 ran.
Cougar's Gold (IRE) 14-1 (11-1) Led until 2nd, prominent, not fluent 9th, not much room after 12th, outpaced and no impression from 3 out, 4th of 9, 9 3/4l behind Cap Du Nord (11-9) at Fakenham 2m 5f hcp (3) gs in Jan.
Ultimatum Du Roy (FR) 16-1 (11-5) Tracked leaders, hit 13th, weakening when mistake 3 out, 6th of 8, 34 1/4l behind High Counsel (10-0) at Warwick 3m hcp (4) sft in Dec.
Dontminddboys (IRE) 50-1 (11-9) Held up, always towards rear, weakened before 2 out, tailed off, 8th of 11, dist behind Layerthorpe (11-0) at Hereford 3m 2f hcp (5) gd in Nov.