A strong southern raiding party here, of which BRAIN POWER makes most appeal with the Henderson novice hurdle team in sparkling form at present. The gelding was value for far more than the winning distance on hurdling debut back in November and connections have undoubtedly been awaiting better ground. He looks a hurdler of merit and one to follow. Charbel and Simon Squirrel are other noteworthy contenders but the main danger could be Always Resolute. A winning handicapper on the level, he was hacking up on his most recent start over timber at Catterick when unluckily falling at the last. A good run is anticipated if he's over that spill, whilst newcomer Azzuri is the one to check in the market for the Skeltons.
Altruism (IRE) 6-1 (11-6) Keen in touch in rear, ridden 3 out, outpaced next, driven and kept on towards finish, 4th of 5, 6 1/4l behind Welsh Shadow (11-0) at Haydock 2m lst (1) sft in Nov.
Charbel (IRE) 7-1 (11-7) Tracked leading pair, went 2nd 3rd, pushed along and outpaced when edged right approaching 2 out, no chance when hung right between last two, no chance with very easy winner, 2nd of 5, 2 3/4l behind Yanworth (11-7) at Ascot 2m (1) sft in Dec.
Always Resolute 11-10fav (11-12) Tracked leaders, led 4th, in command 2 out, 12 lengths clear when fell last, at Catterick 2m (4) sft in Jan.
Brain Power (IRE) 7-4fav (10-12) Held up mid-division, headway to chase leaders before 3 out, led 2 out, not fluent last, kept on, won at Kempton 2m (4) gs in Nov beating Two Taffs (10-12) by 1l, 9 ran.
Lac Leman (GER) 4-1 (11-7) Tracked leader, led 4 out, drew clear from next, unchallenged after, easily, won at Musselburgh 2m mdn (5) gs in Jan beating Archipeligo (11-7) by 17l, 10 ran.
Simon Squirrel (IRE) 8-1 (11-5) Tracked leaders, ridden 3 out, outpaced when hit 2 out, 4th of 10, 20 1/2l behind Altior (11-8) at Kempton 2m (2) gs in Dec.
Azzuri 9-1 (8-13) Soon raced in 2nd, 3rd into straight, dropped to 5th from 1f out, one pace,, 7th of 12, 6 1/2l behind Fact Or Folklore (9-1) at Listowel 1m 4f hcp Soft - Heavy in Sep.
Impulsive American 9-2 (10-4) In rear, headway before 2 out, ridden and weakened run-in, 4th of 6, 7l behind Baron Alco (11-10) at Fontwell 2m 2f hcp (3) sft in Nov.