Both of Marie's Rock’s victories last season came on soft ground but she did win her bumper on quicker going and has had wind surgery since last seen. She may not offer much value in this, however, coming up against battle-hardened handicappers. Botox Has gave weight and a beating to The Pink'n at Cheltenham and has a good strike-rate. The latter was also beaten by THYME WHITE at Chepstow, however, and Paul Nicholls’ four-year-old may be a better option at the weights as he looks have improved physically over the summer. Sebastopol was progressive last winter and Pisgah Pike hasn’t done a lot wrong while Milkwood’s fourth in the Welsh Champion Hurdle could hardly have worked out any better with the first, third and fifth all winning since.
Botox Has (FR) 11-2 (11-2) Chased leader, upsides 2 out, ridden to lead approaching last, ran on strongly flat, won at Cheltenham 2m (2) gd in Oct beating The Pink'n (10-12) by 4l, 6 ran.
Sebastopol (IRE) 9-2 (11-9) Mid-division, reminders after 5th, outpaced 4 out, headway under pressure before next, challenged 2 out, soon ridden and hung right, led approaching last, held on under pressure flat, won at Musselburgh 2m hcp (2) gs in Feb beating Ashington (10-8) by 1/2l, 9 ran.
Milkwood (IRE) 5-1 (10-11) Held up towards rear and keen, good headway chasing leaders travelling well before 3 out, weakened last, 4th of 12, 5 1/2l behind Sceau Royal (11-6) at Ffos Las 2m hcp (2) gs in Oct.
Thyme White (FR) 6-1 (11-1) Keen in mid-division on inside, smooth headway tracking leaders, 2nd 3 out, led going well next, clear before last, stayed on well, won at Chepstow 2m hcp (2) gd in Oct beating The Pink'n (11-3) by 3l, 12 ran.
Floressa (FR) 8-1 (11-7) Chased leaders on inside, not much room and lost place after 2 out, well beaten after, 9th of 22, 22 1/2l behind Concertista (11-2) at Cheltenham 2m 1f (1) sft in Mar.
Marie's Rock (IRE) 6-4jfav (11-5) Raced keenly tracking leading pair, headway on outside to lead going well approaching 2 out, quickened last, went readily clear run-in, easily (3 hurdles in back straight omitted due to low sun, 4 hurdles in total jumped), won at Taunton 2m lst (1) sft in Dec beating Midnights' Gift (10-8) by 8l, 6 ran.
The Pink'n 14-1 (10-12) Held up in rear, towards rear but in touch before 3 out, ran on under pressure when not fluent last, kept on without troubling winner flat, 2nd of 6, 4l behind Botox Has (11-2) at Cheltenham 2m (2) gd in Oct.
Millers Bank 18-1 (10-10) Held up in rear, never on terms, 9th of 12, 37 3/4l behind Sceau Royal (11-6) at Ffos Las 2m hcp (2) gs in Oct.
Pisgah Pike (IRE) 6-5fav (11-12) Pulled hard tracking leaders, awkward 2nd, left in close 2nd at 4th, led soon after, awkward 3 out, headed last, kept on same pace run-in, no chance with winner, 2nd of 6, 1 3/4l behind Thahab Ifraj (10-3) at Kempton 2m hcp (3) gd in Nov.