Cherub is the pick over Water Taxi and Allez Melina, with the rest making little appeal. Cherub was rated two stone higher than Water Taxi over hurdles, and if the same level of form is repeated over the bigger obstacles, then there can only be one winner here. Jonjo O'Neill's charge failed to score over hurdles in 2005 but mixed it with top company, and this year has had just three runs in all, one of them on the Flat, at Kempton in April. It has to be said that he was a bitter disappointment on his chase debut at Worcester last month, showing no sparkle in finishing third, and he will have to improve on that to justify being backed at a short price. However, none of his opponents look world-beaters either, including the one-paced Water Taxi who will surely find even this stiff two miles on the short side. Allez Melina has a mountain to climb as well, and quite simply, if Cherub cannot pass this test, then he is one to avoid in future.
Charlton Kings (IRE) 20-1 (10-12) Held up, headway 8th, weakened 4 out, 5th of 8, 19l behind Kings Brook (10-12) at Worcester 2m 4f beg chs (4) gd in Aug.
Cherub (GER) 10-11fav (11-8) Mid-division, headway 6th, went 2nd next, every chance 2 out, ridden last, found little, 3rd of 8, 8l behind Fortune Point (11-8) at Worcester 2m beg chs (4) gd in Sept.
Smokey Mountain (IRE) 10-1 (10-4) Led to 3rd, remained close up, ridden 2 out, blundered last, soon weakened, 4th of 8, 4l behind Hilltime (10-11) at Market Rasen 2m 1f hcp hdl 0-135 (3) gf in Jun.
Water Taxi 3-1fav (11-6) In touch, headway 3 out, ridden and chased leaders after next, kept on same pace, 3rd of 11, 1 1/2l behind Bollin Thomas (11-2) at Sedgefield 2m 1f hcp hdl 0-120 (3) gd in May.
Allez Melina 16-1 (11-0) Held up mid-division, lost place 3 out, mistake 2 out, soon weakened, 3rd of 5, 30l behind Lord Jay Jay (11-2) at Fontwell 2m 2f mdn chs (4) gf in Sept.
Rosiella 25-1 (10-0) Held up last, lost touch 8th, last of 5, 48l behind Lord Jay Jay (11-2) at Fontwell 2m 2f mdn chs (4) gf in Sept.