Keen On will improve further having beaten a horse rated 110 by a neck at Sandown on his hurdling bow but still has plenty to find on these terms with ECHIQUIER. Rated 132, the latter has been competing in Graded company since winning at Hexham in October and Nigel Twiston-Davies’ charge can shrug off a penalty back at this level. Blackfinch finished runner-up over track and trip on his first start over timber and the winner has subsequently gone in again. He’s preferred to winning pointers Do Your Job and Islandray on that form with the latter pair debuting under Rules.
Echiquier (FR) 20-1 (10-12) Mid-division, headway 3 out, ridden to chase leaders before next, kept on same pace, never on terms, weakened flat, 6th of 17, 12 1/2l behind Stoney Mountain (11-3) at Haydock 3m hcp (1) gs in Nov.
Keen On 15-8 (11-0) Tracked leaders, ridden to challenge approaching last, every chance flat, stayed on gamely to lead close home (1 hurdle omitted), won at Sandown 2m mdn (4) hvy in Nov beating Protektorat (11-0) by hd, 11 ran.
Blackfinch 12-1 (11-0) Held up, steady headway 6th, chased leaders after 3 out, went 2nd 2 out, no chance with very easy winner, 2nd of 9, 5l behind Winningseverything (11-0) at Southwell 2m 4f mdn (4) sft in Oct.
Hang Tough 80-1 (11-0) Chased leader, not fluent 2nd or when lost 2nd 6th, lost place before next, soon weakened, mistake 8th, 10th of 11, dist behind Aimee De Sivola (10-7) at Warwick 2m 5f mdn (4) gd in Oct.
Islandray (IRE) 5-2 (12-2) Pr, jmp well, 3rd 1/2way, ld bef 3out, wo 2out, disp with ev last, kow to line, all out, won at Fairyhouse Ptp 3m mdn Good - Yielding in Apr beating First Revolution (12-2) by 1/2l, 8 ran.
Do Your Job (IRE) 7-2 (12-2) Ld till jnd 5th, disp ld 1/2way, wo with 2l adv 3out, qcknd 4l clr bef last, in command flat, won at Castletown-Geoghegan 3m mdn sft in Oct beating Elmdale (11-11) by 5l, 11 ran.