chased leaders, left 2nd 5th, ridden to lead after 7th, clear 2 out, no extra, headed towards finish
chased leaders, ridden after 7th, stayed on well from last, led towards finish, ridden out
mid-division until badly hampered 5th, tailed off, pulled up before 2 out
in touch, ridden approaching 3 out, soon weakened, tailed off
always towards rear, tailed off 6th, fell 2 out
held up towards rear, headway 6th to track leaders, ridden approaching 2 out, soon weakened
soon tailed off
held up towards rear, hit wing 3rd, headway 7th, effort approaching 2 out, weakened last
mid-division, ridden after 7th, soon weakened
mid-division, weakened quickly after 5th, tailed off, pulled up before 6th
led until 4th, fell next
mid-division, ridden after 5th, weakened next, tailed off
THUNDERING STAR brings the best recent form into this contest and is our selection, in preference to Soulard and Another Display. Paul Nicholls' gelding loves it round here, and is the only course winner. He's carrying top weight, but that was the case when winning here in November. Formerly successful on the flat in South Africa for Mike de Kock, a secondary career over fences looks promising here. Soulard has been placed in all but one of his hurdles outings, but won over the bigger fences. He was well down the field last time out last month in his first run for three months, but the pipe opener should have blown away any cobwebs. Aside from the selection, he's the only one to have an official rating over hurdles. Another Display is a former Irish point winner, and this is just his third run under rules since crossing the North Sea. The Pipe yard couldn't be in better form, and the slight step down in trip looks to be a positive. We favour the claims of the in-form runner though, and that's Thundering Star.
Thundering Star (SAF) 5-2fav (11-1) In touch, pushed along to chase leaders approaching 2 out, soon every chance, stayed on same pace flat, 3rd of 14, 1 1/2l behind Eleazar (11-2) at Kempton 2m 5f hcp hdl 0-135 (3) gs in Feb.
Another Display (IRE) 15-2 (11-4) Held up, ridden 9th, soon one pace, went distance 3rd after 2 out, 3rd of 7, 23l behind Cast Cada (11-4) at Taunton 3m nov hdl (4) gs in Feb.
Boomtown Kat 28-1 (11-2) Keen early, held up towards rear, headway 4f out, never reached leaders, 6th of 16, 18l behind Burton Port (11-2) at Hereford 2m 1f nhf (6) sft in Dec.
Mad Moose (IRE) 16-1 (11-2) In rear after blundered 1st, headway approaching 3 out, went 3rd approaching last, no chance with leading pair, 3rd of 16, 29l behind Acordeon (11-2) at Ludlow 2m nh mdn hdl (4) gs in Feb.
Maille Abaa (FR) 40-1 (11-1) Tracked leaders, ridden and weakened 3 out, 9th of 14, well behind Izita Star (10-8) at Stratford 2m mdn hdl (5) gd.
Marwan (IRE) 7-1 (11-1) Held up towards rear, ridden and headway over 3f out, no impression, 5th of 15, 15l behind Jubilee Queen (10-8) at Bangor 2m 1f mdn nhf (5) gs in Feb.
Soft Spoken Guy (IRE) 11-1 (11-2) Towards rear, reminder 4th, ridden 5th, weakened next, 7th of 10, well behind Summery Justice (11-2) at Taunton 2m 1f nh nov hdl (4) gs in Feb.
Son Histoire (FR) 33-1 (11-0) Held up last, last 4 out, struggling after, tailed off, 4th of 7, well behind Wendel (11-8) at Ascot 2m 3f nov hdl (3) hvy in Feb.
Soulard (USA) 9-1 (11-5) Chased winner, hit 10th, lost 2nd 12th and soon ridden, beaten soon after 4 out, 7th of 9, 32l behind Le Burf (11-8) at Kempton 2m 4f hcp chs 0-130 (3) gd in Feb.
Forest Lass (IRE) 33-1 (10-3) In touch, ridden 5th, weakened next, 7th of 12, well behind Captain Becket (10-8) at Exeter 2m 3f nov sll hdl (5) gs.
Soviet Cat (IRE) 150-1 (10-7) Always behind, tailed off and pulled up 3 out in race won by Quartz de Thaix (11-5) at Taunton 2m 1f nov hdl (4) gs in Jan, 14 ran.
Top Ticket (IRE) 12-1 (10-9) Held up in rear, took keen hold, ridden 5th, soon lost touch, no chance when mistake last, 8th of 11, 46l behind Elk Trail (11-5) at Warwick 2m 4yo nov hdl (4) sft in Feb.
Sizeable Return 66-1 (11-1) Mistakes, always behind, mistake 5th, 7th and well beaten when blundered badly 2 out, 7th of 11, well behind Enfant De Lune (11-8) at Lingfield 2m nov hdl (4) sft.