Denman has scared away the opposition and should complete his Cheltenham prep at the expense of Standin Obligation and Mr Pointment. Paul Nicholls has placed Denman to win seven of his eight career starts to date, his only defeat coming in last year's Royal & SunAlliance Novices' Hurdle. He is unbeaten now in all three starts over fences, including at Newbury in November when beating the useful Snakebite by 12-lengths. Having been far from foot-perfect earlier at Exeter and Cheltenham, it was nice to see his jumping improve no end at the Berkshire track, and a similar effort today should be enough. He had Mr Pointment behind in fifth at Cheltenham last March, while Standin Obligation was very, very disappointing last time, the soft ground being a contributing factor. No doubt the last named pair will win their fair share of chases in the future, but Denman is a class above, and can enhance his position at the top of the betting for this year's Royal & Sun Alliance Chase by outstaying his rivals today.
Denman (IRE) 2-11fav (11-7) Tracked leader, led 9th, stayed on strongly, won at Newbury 2m 4f nov chs Grd 2 (1) hvy in Nov beating Snakebite (11-0) by 12l, 4 ran.
Standin Obligation (IRE) 8-13fav (11-8) Led 2nd until next, with leader, weakened approaching 2 out, 3rd of 5, 21l behind Patsy Hall (11-5) at Cheltenham 3m 1f nov chs (2) sft in Dec.
Mr Pointment (IRE) 3-1 (11-5) Tracked leaders, led 4 out, narrowly headed 2 out, rallied and every chance flat, no extra close home, 2nd of 7, 2l behind Don't Push It (11-5) at Cheltenham 2m 5f nov chs (2) sft in Dec.
In Accord 9-1 (11-0) Held up, tracked winner 4th & 7th, with clear leader 12th, ridden 14th, weakened 2 out, 2nd of 5, 25l behind Gungadu (11-8) at Warwick 3m nov chs (2) hvy in Jan.