PETROU has been unbeaten over hurdles since joining Dan Skelton. He won off a 7lb higher mark at Aintree last week and remains in fine form – he is the one to beat if handling the switch to fences. Very Extravagant has an unblemished record over hurdles here but has not been given as much leeway by the handicapper. Fair To Middling will probably also need to improve on his hurdles form while River Of Intrigue has become disappointing. Zolfo still had a chance when falling at Bangor but this looks a better race.
Very Extravagant (IRE) 12-1 (11-10) Chased leaders, not fluent 5th, soon lost place, effort 3 out, one pace and beaten in 5th before next, no extra last, 6th of 8, 23l behind Oscarteea (11-10) at Market Rasen 2m 7f hcp (3) gd in Jun.
Petrou (IRE) 4-5fav (11-9) Held up in rear, not always fluent, mistake 4th, jumped left 3 out and 2 out, headway and switched left before last, not much room and went 2nd flat, led final 75 yards, stayed on, won at Aintree 2m 4f hcp (4) gd in Jun beating Tyrrell's Succes (11-0) by 1/2l, 8 ran.
Fair To Middling 2-1jfav (11-12) Ducked sharply right and almost unseated rider as tapes rose, behind, gained a place 3rd, disputing close 3rd 7th, pushed along and outpaced before 2 out, rallied and hit last, went 2nd final 100 yards, 2nd of 5, 1 1/4l behind Culm Counsellor (10-0) at Taunton 3m hcp (4) gd in Nov.
River Of Intrigue (IRE) 7-2 (11-5) Tracked leaders, ridden and weakened 4 out, 4th of 9, 35l behind Optimistic Bias (12-0) at Uttoxeter 3m hcp (4) gd in May.
Zolfo (IRE) 7-2 (11-5) Handy on outside, not fluent 1st, chased winner from next, ridden and about 1 1/2 lengths down when fell 2 out, at Bangor 2m 4f hcp (4) gd in Jun.