Critical Stage, Easy Laughter and Shaman form the short list in the claimer, with the selection being Critical Stage. Critical Stage warmed up for this with a fair run on the flat at Salisbury and, having proven pretty consistent at this type of level over hurdles, has to be considered. Alan King's Easy Laughter drops to this grade for the first time and has shown enough to be given some thought. A repeat of his course and distance run of August 2005 would give Saorsie good claims although he's better known as a chaser these days, and this is probably Shaman's level and one of his better efforts would put him right in the mix. He represents a big danger to the selection. Finally, it would not entirely be a surprise to see Fly By Jove go well but Forzacurity looks held on today's terms, and Senor Bond was winning on the Flat back in 2005 but has had only one run in two years. Once again, though, the selection is Critical Stage.
Critical Stage (IRE) 5-1 (10-10) Mid-division, ridden after 5th, weakened after 2 out, 6th of 7, 42l behind Hill Forts Timmy (10-8) at N Abbot 2m 3f hcp hdl 0-130 (3) sft in Jun.
Easy Laughter (IRE) 7-2 (11-10) Towards rear, headway 4th, every chance 3 out, weakened, 7th of 13, 23l behind Linden Boy (10-3) at Stratford 2m nov hcp hdl 0-105 (4) gd in May.
Fly By Jove (IRE) 50-1 (9-10) Prominent stand side, ridden over 3f out, soon weakened, 11th of 14, 20l behind Atraas (9-1) at Chepstow 1m mdn stk (5) gs in May (Flat).
Forzacurity 2-1fav (9-9) Mid-division, headway approaching 3rd, led after 3 out, headed flat, not quicken, 2nd of 12, 1 1/2l behind Country Escape (11-6) at Hereford 2m 1f hcp hdl 0-105 (4) gd in Jun.
Senor Bond (USA) 8-1 (10-12) Always behind, 12th of 15, 47l behind Euro Route (10-12) at Uttoxeter 2m sll hdl (G) gf in Sept '05.
Saorsie 14-1 (10-13) Chased leaders, went 2nd 6th, mistake 8th and 9th, soon weakened, 6th of 10, 46l behind Just Muckin Around (10-7) at N Abbot 2m hcp chs 0-95 (5) gs in Jul.
Shaman 50-1 (11-8) Always in the rear, 7th of 13, 33l behind In Extra Time (11-3) at Stratford 2m 1f hcp chs 0-95 (5) gd in Jul.
Contra Mundum (USA) 18-1 (10-10) Held up, headway 5th, ridden and weakened 3 out, tailed off, 5th of 10, well behind Nayodabayo (10-13) at N Abbot 2m 3f sll hdl (5) gs in Jul.