This is undoubtedly a tricky opener, with Mille Chief looking the obvious one, but countering that is the form of Alan King, which is not red hot. Therefore we will side with debutant ROYAL MIX, while Corredor Sun looks likely to be very competitive. The last-named represents the in-form Nigel Twiston-Davies team, and after showing steady improvement on the level for Carl Llewellyn, the gelding ran with credit on his hurdling debut at Uttoxeter. Soft ground is a bit of an unknown, but he should be able to build on the promise he has shown today. Mille Chief will relish the ground and as a 1m 1f flat winner he should get home over this trip over hurdles. His Market Rasen debut was looking very encouraging, but he was brought down when travelling well and we don't know if he would have been good enough to win that day. With the Barbury Castle team not firing on all cylinders he might be worth taking on at the likely cramped odds. We will do so with Royal Mix. The Sagamix gelding also acts with cut and will stay at least this far, as a 1m 5f winner on the level in his native France. This is his debut for Paul Nicholls, whose team is getting into full swing, and he is sure to be well prepared, so we hope his extra stamina allows him to run the sting out of the rest of the field. Beat The Devil is saddled by Tom George, who also has his string in good nick, and this Nayef gelding should be able to handle the cut and show improvement for his hurdles introduction, so watch the market for clues. Prince Pippin has a tough task ahead of him now shouldering a double penalty, but he does act with cut and stays at least this far. He cannot be written off, but preference is for newcomer Royal Mix.
Prince Pippin (IRE) 12-1 (10-12) Made all, pushed well clear when hit last, ridden out flat, won at Folkestone 2m 1f 3yo nov hdl (4) gs beating Tarawa Atoll (10-5) by 2 3/4l, 4 ran.
Beat The Devil 20-1 (11-0) Held up in rear, headway after 4 out, outpaced next, 4th and no impression when jumped left 2 out, soon ridden and weakened, 5th of 9, 36l behind Kind Heart (10-7) at Aintree 2m 3yo nov hdl (3) gd in Oct.
Corredor Sun (USA) 8-1 (10-12) Held up in rear, headway approaching 3 out, hung left approaching next, hung left and weakened flat, 4th of 10, 10l behind Zepnove (10-7) at Uttoxeter 2m 3yo nov hdl (4) gd in Oct.
Me Voici (FR) 12-1 (10-12) Held up, headway to chase leaders from 5th, ridden and weakened after 3 out, 7th of 11, 39l behind Tillietudlem (10-12) at Bangor 2m 1f 3yo nov hdl (4) gd in Sep.
Royal Mix (FR) (9-4) won at Deauville(FR) 1m 7f stk gd in Aug beating Sagarian (9-4) by hd, 11 ran (flat).
Icy Colt (ARG) Colonial Affair gelding out of Icy Desert.
Princess Soraya 100-1 (10-5) Always in rear, struggling 4 out, soon tailed off, 7th of 8, well behind Pistolet Noir (10-12) at Cheltenham 2m juv nov hdl Grd 2 (1) sft.
Mille Chief (FR) 8-11fav (10-12) Mid-division, headway and in touch 5th, joined leaders going well when brought down 2 out, in a race won by Sergeant Pink (10-12) at Market Rasen 2m 1f 3yo nov hdl (4) sft, 13 ran.