CARAVEL is nominated here to continue his progression at the main expense of Casual Affair and Speed Up. A winner of five races (in a row!) on the flat when in the care of Sir Mark Prescott, the selection made a rather inauspicious start to his hurdling career when not completing at Aintree in November. He made amends for that run however when winning fairly comfortably here last time out and he looks sure to carry on progressing despite his penalty. The main danger could be Casual Affair, who was rated in the 70's on the flat and has made a promising start to his hurdling career. He was second to a stablemate of the selection in December and then ran just averagely in a decent contest here next time up; if bouncing back from that he should get some place money. Alan Swinbank's horses are in good form at the moment and he saddles Hill Billy Rock. Again he wasn't bad on the flat but his hurdling debut at Doncaster was mediocre and he would only be of interest if well-backed. Thunderstruck has shown ability in two recent runs at big prices, and he takes on older opposition of the first time, Speed Up looks modest at best, whilst Pontop has been facing some stiff tasks to date. This looks a good opportunity for the Supreme Novices' entry Caravel to keep the wheels turning.
Caravel (IRE) 6-4fav (11-0) Tracked leaders, headway and every chance 3 out, led next, ridden and drew clear from last, won at Musselburgh 2m mdn hdl (5) gf in Dec beating Divers (11-0) by 2l, 14 ran.
Casual Affair 5-2jt-fav (11-4) Tracked clear leader, led after 4 out, ridden 3 out, headed approaching next, soon weakened, 4th of 12, 17l behind Calcutta Cup (11-11) at Musselburgh 2m nov hdl (4) gs in Jan.
Catai 100-1 (11-4) Mid division, ridden approaching 3 out, soon weakened, 8th of 13, 47l behind Woody Waller (10-7) at Musselburgh 2m nov hdl (4) gs in Jan.
Hill Billy Rock (IRE) 66-1 (10-12) In touch, ridden after 5th, soon weakened, tailed off, 13th of 18, well behind Fushe Jo (10-12) at Doncaster 2m nov hdl (4) sft in Jan.
Miss Tarantella 5-1 (10-9) Led, hit 3rd, headed approaching 2 out, weakened soon after, 3rd of 6, 34l behind Letterpress (10-12) at Hexham 2m nh nov hdl (4) hvy in Nov.
Mister Maq 12-1 (10-12) Mid-division, outpaced approaching 3 out, soon lost place, behind when pulled up at the last in race won by Touch of Ivory (9-12) at Perth 2m 3yo nov hdl (4) sft in Sept '06, 9 ran.
Pontop (IRE) 33-1 (11-2) Always behind, 6th of 11, 34l behind Red Moloney (11-11) at Musselburgh 2m nov hdl (4) gd in Feb.
Speed Up (FR) 15-2 (10-12) Mistakes in rear, soon lost touch, tailed off when pulled up 3 out in race won by Kingham (10-12) at Catterick 2m nov chs (4) sft in Jan, 7 ran.
Recoil (IRE) 250-1 (11-0) Held up, blundered 4th, soon lost touch, last of 6, well behind Giorgio Quercus (11-8) at Musselburgh 2m 4yo nov hdl (2) gd in Feb.
Thunderstruck 28-1 (11-0) With leaders, outpaced approaching 2 out, 4th of 10, 19l behind Pemberton (11-2) at Wetherby 2m 3yo nov hdl (3) sft in Dec.
Spume (IRE) 40-1 (11-2) Held up, headway to chase leaders after 3 out, weakened from next, 5th of 7, well behind Aachen (11-8) at Market Rasen 2m 1f nov hdl (3) sft.