THISTLECRACK has barely touched a twig in chasing victories at Chepstow and Cheltenham and it will a huge shock if the current Gold Cup favourite doesn't complete his hat-trick over the larger obstacles here. Bigbadjohn only won a match here earlier in the month but jumped well in the main and he should be in the frame. Ibis Du Rheu won the Martin Pipe at The Festival in March but is rated 27lb lower than the selection over hurdles and gets only 7lb here.
Bigbadjohn (IRE) 7-4 (11-7) Mostly jumped well, made all, pushed along after 4 out, slight peck 3 out, 5 lengths ahead last, kept on strongly unchallenged, won at Newbury 2m 6f (3) gd in Nov beating Our Kaempfer (11-7) by 6l, 2 ran.
Thistlecrack 1-7fav (11-5) Led to after 1st, led again 3rd to next, tracked leader, blundered 5th, regained lead after 10th, soon clear, reduced advantage 3 out, drew clear again before next, unextended, won at Cheltenham 3m (2) gs in Nov beating Marinero (11-5) by 3 3/4l, 4 ran.
Ibis Du Rheu (FR) 12-1 (11-11) Mid-division on outside, outpaced 3 out, ridden and no impression after next, well held when hampered last, 8th of 22, 28 1/2l behind Party Rock (10-8) at Aintree 2m 4f hcp (1) gs in Apr.
Pinnacle Panda (IRE) 12-1 (11-8) Held up, towards rear, not fluent 3rd, steady headway 8th, outpaced when blundered 4 out, plugged on into modest 5th last, 5th of 12, 8 1/4l behind Cusheen Bridge (11-2) at Market Rasen 2m 5f hcp (3) sft in Nov.
Tajseer (USA) 16-1 (11-10) Led, headed before 2 out, weakened from last, 5th of 7, 14 1/4l behind Peruvien Bleu (11-6) at Towcester 2m hcp (4) gd in Nov.