Dark Corner can give Nigel Twiston-Davies another success in this event, with Millennium Hall, Baileys Best and Edgehill seen as other leading players. Challengers sent up from Naunton must always be respected, and indeed Harry Blade was successful 12 months ago. With that in mind, Dark Corner is sure to be primed to go close despite a 189-day absence, and is the pick on the strength of some promising bumper efforts including a gutsy win at Chepstow last January. Put away after contesting the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham, he is sure to have been well schooled, and can outclass his rivals here, with the longer trip in his favour. Millennium Hall has failed to impress over hurdles in the past, and has been out of form on the Flat. Maybe another spell at the winter game will rejuvenate him, but we are happy to oppose him today. Baileys Best has shaped well on both starts over timber, but based on his Irish form, may need more cut to be seen to best effect, while Edgehill has not been out since December, and so is best watched. All in all, the progressive Dark Corner looks the answer.
Edgehill (IRE) 7-4 (10-12) In touch, headway 3 out, challenged next, no impression and eased flat, 2nd of 16, 10l behind Turnstile (10-12) at Catterick 2m 3f nov hdl (E) gd in Dec.
Fleet Admiral Fleetwood gelding, half-brother to flat and hurdles winner Cinder Hill.
Go Commercial (IRE) 20-1 (11-6) In touch until 7th, 12th of 15, well behind Nero West (10-13) at Wincanton 2m 6f mdn hdl (4) sft in Jan.
Millennium Hall 7-1 (11-6) Held up mid-division, hit 5th struggling from next, 8th of 12, 42l behind Front Rank (11-6) at Carlisle 2m 1f hcp hdl 0-105 (4) sft in Feb.
Newton Bridge (IRE) (11-7) 5th of 14, 35l behind Only Dreams (11-7) at Tattersalls Farm 3m ire ptp gs in Nov.
Oasis Banus (IRE) 6-4fav (10-10) Held up in touch,effort under pressure and mistake 3 out, soon beaten, 5th of 9, 25l behind Manque Neuf (11-3) at Plumpton 3m 1f nov hcp hdl 0-90 (F) gs in Nov.
Romanov Rambler (IRE) 33-1 (9-11) Held up, ridden after 7th, weakened and lost touch 9th, behind when pulled up 2 out in race won by Optimistic Harry (10-9) at Perth 3m nov hcp hdl 0-105 (4) gd in Aug, 9 ran.
Solway Ed (IRE) 100-1 (10-7) In touch, mistake 1st, hit 5th, ridden after 6th, stumbled 7th, weakened and pulled up 3 out in race won by Ally Shrimp (11-6) at Bangor 3m nov hdl (4) gd in May, 13 ran.
Young Blade 100-1 (11-0) In touch until weakened 4 out, 11th of 16, 47l behind Boulders Beach (11-0) at Kelso 2m nh nov hdl (4) sft in Apr.
Baileys Best 3-1 (11-0) Always prominent, ridden approaching 3 out, weakened last, 3rd of 10, 9l behind Sualda (11-0) at Worcester 2m mdn hdl (5) gd.
Dark Corner 200-1 (10-11) Always towards rear, 17th of 23, 22l behind Hairy Molly (11-5) at Cheltenham 2m nhf Grd 1 (1) gd in Mar.
Hawksbury Heights 25-1 (11-7) Unseated rider 1st fell in race won by Cleni Boy (11-7) at Galway 2m mdn hdl gd, 20 ran.
My Portfolio (IRE) 33-1 (10-7) Behind, headway to moderate 8th after 3 out, kept on from 2 out, never a threat, 6th of 18, 40l behind Spes Ultima (11-4) at Down Royal 2m 4f mdn hdl gd.
Or de Grugy (FR) April Night gelding out of Girlish.
Roadworthy (IRE) 7-1 (10-0) Mid-division, ridden and weakened 2 out, 10th of 13, 25l behind Political Cruise (10-1) at Sedgefield 2m 4f sll hcp hdl 0-95 (5) hvy in Mar.
Full As A Rocket (IRE) 3-1 (9-12) With leader, shaken up to lead over 3f out, headed over 1f out, weakened final furlong, 3rd of 15, 4 1/2l behind Seymar Lad (11-4) at Wetherby 2m nhf (H) gs in Feb '05.