This is as competitive as the numbers would suggest, a fact likely to be reflected in the betting. Nicky Henderson has won it twice in the last five years and his Aigle De La See is certain to be among the market leaders. He arrives on a hat-trick but only beat Monbeg Theatre half-a-length over course and distance in January and is a couple of pounds worse off today. Jamie Snowden's charge is another for the short-list but Fontwell winner Remiluc faces a stiff task under top weight and neither of Colin Tizzard's two runners, Buckhorn Timothy and Kingfisher Creek, have been done any favours by the handicapper. CHIDSWELL also has his fair share of weight but we suspect we haven't yet seen the best of Nicky Richards' charge. He had Acertain Circus behind at Fakenham last time, despite finding that sharp track against him, and might be a bit of value in this. Hello George can do better eased in grade while it would be no surprise to see the maiden Robbie Rabbit run well and As De Mee won here in December.
Remiluc (FR) 9-4 (11-2) Raced keenly, tracked leaders, headway to lead approaching 2 out, ridden clear flat, won at Fontwell 2m 2f NH nov hdl (4-7yo) (4) gs in Feb beating Laurium (11-2) by 10l, 9 ran.
Buckhorn Timothy 25-1 (11-5) Pressed leader, hit 7th, pushed along and every chance 2 out, driven and lost 2nd before the last, kept on same pace run-in, 3rd of 4, 10l behind Arpege D'alene (11-8) at Ascot 2m 3f nov hdl (2) sft in Feb.
Kingfisher Creek 1-2fav (11-10) Tracked leader, not always fluent, challenged 5th, soon led, hung left from after 2 out, still hanging left and impeded rival flat, stayed on, won at Taunton 2m 1f nh nov hdl (4) sft in Jan beating Bilbrook Blaze (11-4) by 1l, 9 ran.
Chidswell (IRE) 7-4 (11-8) Tracked leaders, ridden 2 out, effort to chase winner bend approaching last, kept on one pace, 2nd of 7, 3l behind Clean Sheet (11-8) at Fakenham 2m 4f NH nov hdl (4-7yo) (3) gs in Feb.
As De Mee (FR) 15-8fav (11-8) Tracked leaders on outside, mistake 4th, went 2nd after 3 out, led 2 out, hung left flat, driven out, won at Leicester 2m 4f NH nov hdl (4-7yo) (3) hvy in Jan beating Tara Mist (11-1) by 1/2l, 10 ran.
Monbeg Theatre (IRE) 7-2fav (11-11) Pressed leader, led on long run before 2 out, 2 lengths ahead when mistake last, wandered under pressure run-in, headed and no extra final 100 yards, 2nd of 10, 1/2l behind Aigle De La See (11-6) at Sandown 2m 4f nov hcp hdl 0-125 (3) sft in Jan.
Hello George (IRE) 6-1 (10-0) Held up towards rear, pushed along after 6th, went modest 4th at the last, never any chance, 4th of 13, 32l behind Tea For Two (9-12) at Kempton 2m 5f Listed hcp hdl (1) sft in Jan.
Acertain Circus 10-1 (11-8) Raced wide held up, hit 4th, headway to chase winner before 2 out until bend approaching last, kept on one pace, 3rd of 7, 6l behind Clean Sheet (11-8) at Fakenham 2m 4f NH nov hdl (4-7yo) (3) gs in Feb.
Aigle De La See (FR) 4-9fav (11-12) Tracked leader, led before 2 out, shaken up and clear before last, easily, won at Ffos Las 2m 4f NH nov hdl (4-7yo) (4) hvy in Feb beating Ballyrath (11-2) by 10l, 5 ran.
Skylander (IRE) 4-1 (11-8) Close up, challenged before 3 out, every chance before last, no extra last 100 yards, 3rd of 7, 5l behind Double Shuffle (11-2) at Doncaster 2m NH nov hdl (4-7yo) (4) gd in Feb.
Mount Haven (IRE) 8-1 (10-11) Raced keenly, tracked leading pair, challenged after 3 out, led briefly before next, one pace before last, ridden and no impression with front pair flat, 3rd of 7, 4 1/2l behind Padge (11-2) at Taunton 2m 3f NH nov hdl (4-7yo) (4) hvy in Jan.
Kilgeel Hill (IRE) 5-4fav (10-2) Held up in last pair in touch, headway on outside 2 out, soon challenged, led soon after last, ridden flat, stayed on towards finish, won at Fontwell 2m 6f nov hdl (4) gs in Feb beating Atlantic Gold (10-12) by 1 1/2l, 7 ran.
Great Try (IRE) 5-4fav (11-2) Chased leaders, not fluent 5th, went 2nd before 3 out, led going well approaching 2 out, driven and stayed on well flat, won at Bangor 2m 1f NH nov hdl (4-7yo) (4) sft in Feb beating Hedley Lamarr (11-2) by 2 1/4l, 6 ran.
Robbie Rabbit (IRE) 8-1 (10-6) Led, ridden and headed 3 out, weakened before last, 5th of 11, 21l behind Virtuel D'oudon (11-3) at Chepstow 3m hcp hdl (2) sft in Feb.
Sidbury Hill 6-1 (10-7) Led until 2nd, chased leaders, 2nd after 3 out, closing when mistake and lost 2nd 2 out, kept on same pace in 3rd, 3rd of 9, 13l behind Shammick Boy (11-8) at Wincanton 2m 4f hcp hdl 0-140 (3) hvy in Jan.
L'aigle Royal (GER) 10-3 (11-2) Chased clear leader, closed 4th, led 6th, headed before 2 out, 3rd and no extra last, 3rd of 6, 18l behind Great Try (11-2) at Bangor 2m 1f NH nov hdl (4-7yo) (4) sft in Feb.
Amidon (FR) 15-2 (11-4) Chased leading pair, weakened approaching 2 out, 6th of 10, 13l behind Aigle De La See (11-6) at Sandown 2m 4f nov hcp hdl 0-125 (3) sft in Jan.
Assam Black (IRE) 11-8 (11-8) Held up in touch, ridden to chase leaders before 2 out, one pace between last 2, no impression, 4th of 7, 5l behind Padge (11-2) at Taunton 2m 3f NH nov hdl (4-7yo) (4) hvy in Jan.