Big Eared Fran is improving with each start over hurdles and David Pipe's gelding has every opportunity of opening his account over hurdles off what seems a fair mark but better form has been shown by BAKBENSCHER and he gets the vote with Time For Rupert rated the best of the rest in a competitive opener. The selection was useful in bumpers and has shown progressive form over hurdles, noticeably improving for the step up in trip when successful at Newbury last time, form on which he looks well treated for his handicap debut today. With Clay Hollister being owned by J P McManus, Tony McCoy takes the ride for Nicky Henderson's gelding, and it is difficult to weigh up which is the better of the yard's three runners in the race with Burton Port (Barry Geraghty) and Busker Royal (Felix de Giles) both having chances. Venetia Williams has her string in fine fettle at present so her runner Quartz de Thaix has to be considered, while Paul Webber's pair Time For Rupert and Edgbriar are closely matched at the top of the handicap. Keki Buku looks a shade high in the weights judged by his recent effort at Cheltenham and preference is for the progressive Bakbenscher.
Time For Rupert (IRE) 20-1 (11-3) Held up, in touch from 2nd, led before 7th, stayed on well flat, won at Huntingdon 2m 4f nov hdl (2) gs in Feb beating Cracboumwiz (11-3) by 2 1/2l, 10 ran.
Edgbriar (FR) 15-8fav (11-13) Tracked leaders, led on bit approaching 3 out, soon in command, idled and shaken up towards finish, won at Doncaster 2m 3f nh nov hdl (3) sft in Jan beating Minella Theatre (11-3) by 3/4l, 21 ran.
Tullamore Dew (IRE) 9-2 (11-3) Tracked leaders, hit 2nd, joined leaders 5th, led last, idled flat, driven out, won at Fontwell 2m 2f nh nov hdl (4) sft in Feb beating Balnahinch (11-4) by 1 1/2l, 10 ran.
Martys Mission (IRE) 33-1 (11-3) With leader, led 2nd, headed before 7th, ridden and weakened after 7th, 9th of 10, 36l behind Time For Rupert (11-3) at Huntingdon 2m 4f nov hdl (2) gs in Feb.
Busker Royal Evensfav (11-12) Mid-division, headway 3 out, ridden and challenged approaching 2 out, no chance with winner, 3rd of 14, 10l behind Chariot Charger (11-9) at Taunton 2m 3f nh nov hdl (3) gs in Jan.
Bakbenscher 11-2 (11-5) Held up in rear, headway approaching 3 out, challenged 2 out, led soon after, jumped slowly last, stayed on well flat, won at Newbury 2m 3f nh nov hdl (4) sft in Dec beating Captain Americo (10-12) by 3l, 16 ran.
Quartz de Thaix (FR) 1-2fav (11-9) Tracked leaders, left in lead after 5 out, clear approaching 2 out, won at Bangor 2m 1f nh nov hdl (4) hvy in Feb beating Reindeer Dippin (10-10) by 17l, 6 ran.
Big Eared Fran (IRE) 10-1 (11-0) Held up last, headway approaching 3 out, soon ridden, challenged approaching 2 out, not quicken, 2nd of 11, 6l behind Aachen (11-3) at Taunton 2m 1f mdn hdl (4) hvy in Feb.
Burton Port (IRE) 9-2 (11-8) Held up in rear, pushed along after 3 out, edged right approaching next, stayed on to take 3rd towards finish, never near front pair, 3rd of 9, 13l behind According To Dick (11-2) at Sandown 2m nh nov hdl (3) gs in Feb.
Finney 9-2 (11-11) Held up, chased leaders 5 out, soon ridden and weakened, 6th of 16, well behind Tarablaze (11-11) at Haydock 2m 4f nov hdl (4) sft in Jan.
Clay Hollister 9-4fav (11-12) Held up towards rear, raced keenly, headway approaching 5th, chased leading pair approaching 2 out, one pace last, 3rd of 12, 4 1/2l behind Quiver Hill (11-2) at Warwick 2m 3f nh nov hdl (4) sft in Feb.
Any Currency (IRE) 13-8fav (11-0) Held up, keen, headway 7th, ridden and close up 3 out, faded flat, 4th of 13, 10l behind Kayf Aramis (10-11) at Chepstow 3m mdn hdl (5) hvy in Feb.
What A Buzz 4-1 (11-5) Made all, ridden 2 out, stayed on well, won at Newcastle 2m 4f nov hdl (4) hvy in Jan beating Presque Perdre (10-12) by 5l, 14 ran.
Summery Justice (IRE) 4-1 (11-2) In touch, ridden and headway to chase leaders 6th, ran on well after last, led close home, won at Taunton 2m 1f nh nov hdl (4) gs in Feb beating Song Sung Blue (11-2) by a hd, 10 ran.
Keki Buku (FR) 7-1 (11-8) In touch until outpaced 3 out, stayed on again approaching last, 5th of 19, 7l behind Sunnyhillboy (11-7) at Cheltenham 2m nov hcp hdl 0-125 (3) sft in Nov.
Circus of Dreams 7-2 (11-10) Prominent, ridden after 3 out, kept on same pace, 3rd and held when hit last, 4th of 10, 9l behind Tullamore Dew (11-3) at Fontwell 2m 2f nh nov hdl (4) sft in Feb.
Song Sung Blue (IRE) 6-1 (11-2) Mid-division, ridden and headway approaching 2 out, challenged last, soon led, hard ridden and drifted left, headed close home, 2nd of 10, hd behind Summery Justice (11-2) at Taunton 2m 1f nh nov hdl (4) gs in Feb.
Quazy de Joie (FR) 14-1 (10-5) Held up in touch, pushed along 5th, weakening when hit next, last of 7, well behind Carrickboy (10-11) at Market Rasen 2m 1f hcp hdl (2) sft in Feb.