took keen hold, led 2nd, headed after 3 out, weakened 2 out
held up well in rear, headway after 3 out, jumped left and weakened 2 out
mid-division, not fluent 4th, pushed along 7th, ridden before next, weakened 3 out
tracked leaders, went 2nd 4th, led after 3 out until headed before 2 out, soon weakened
held up in rear, not fluent 3rd, ridden before 8th, well beaten 3 out, pulled up before 2 out
held up towards rear, headway under pressure after 3 out, weakened before 2 out
led after 1st until 2nd, handy, ridden 9th, weakened approaching 2 out
led until after 1st, tracked leaders until outpaced 8th, rallied after 3 out, not much room when weakening 2 out
mid-division, headway approaching 8th, outpaced 9th, rallied 3 out, chased winner 2 out, stayed on to close as winner eased towards finish
mid-division, headway 2nd, ridden approaching 8th, blundered next, led before 2 out, soon in command, eased towards finish
MADE IN JAPAN, Minella Boys and My Friend Sandy are shortlisted in this handicap hurdle and the vote goes to Made In Japan. The selection finished a close third behind Wolf Moon at Cheltenham on New Year's Day and racing off the same mark here he looks to have been found a good opportunity to regain the winning thread. The slightly longer trip should not hinder him and the ground is another plus. Minella Boys beat Spinhx at Bangor last month and he will enjoy today's ground conditions and he has bags of stamina so the longer trip will also play to his strengths. He is respected here, along with My Friend Sandy who has won his last two races, but he was only a narrow scorer last time and he has more on his plate on these terms. Description has been dropped a few pounds by the handicapper and he does have a fair strike-rate over hurdles so it would not be a surprise to see him go well. However, we prefer the claims of Made In Japan and he gets our pick.
Helpston 9-1 (11-3) Took keen hold, tracked leaders until weakened approaching 8th, tailed off, 13th of 18, well behind Lie Forrit (11-8) at Newbury 3m hcp hdl 0-140 (2) gs in Nov.
Al Co (FR) 12-1 (10-9) Held up in last pair, well beaten approaching 2 out, 5th of 6, 15l behind Leo's Lucky Star (11-0) at Warwick 2m beg chs (4) sft in Dec.
Made In Japan (JPN) 4-1 (10-5) Held up towards rear, ridden after 3 out, headway approaching 2 out, outpaced before last, not clear run and switched left soon after last, stayed on flat, went 3rd final 100 yards, 3rd of 7, 2 3/4l behind Wolf Moon (10-0) at Cheltenham 3m hcp hdl (2) sft.
Minella Boys (IRE) 6-1 (10-10) Chased leaders, led 8th, clear approaching last when not fluent, won at Bangor 3m hcp hdl 0-135 (3) sft in Dec beating Sphinx (10-8) by 3l, 9 ran.
Sibenek (IRE) 13-2 (11-4) Towards rear, ridden after 4 out, never dangerous, 4th of 10, 17l behind Pagan Starprincess (11-6) at Wetherby 2m 4f hcp hdl 0-135 (3) hvy in Dec.
My Friend Sandy 9-1 (11-3) Keen early, in touch, ridden and hanging left after 3 out, led last, all out towards finish, just held on, won at Chepstow 3m hcp hdl 0-130 (3) hvy in Nov beating Magnifico (11-0) by nk, 9 ran.
Magnifico (FR) 8-1 (11-4) Led to 4th, chased leader, pushed along approaching 3 out, no extra from 2 out, 3rd of 14, 13l behind Money Order (11-7) at Chepstow 3m hcp hdl 0-130 (3) hvy in Dec.
Description (IRE) 13-2 (10-12) Held up in rear, good headway to chase leaders 4th, fell 7th, in a race won by Mr Strachan (11-4) at Hexham 3m 1f hcp chs 0-135 (3) hvy in Dec, 10 ran.
Thedeboftheyear 16-1 (10-10) Keen early, mid-division, headway and in touch 8th, effort 3 out, ridden next, stayed on well under pressure flat to dead heat post, won at Taunton 3m hcp hdl 0-120 (3) sft in Dec deadheating with Deep Pockets (10-10), 11 ran.
Tarateeno 12-1 (11-4) In touch, effort 2 out, soon chased winner, kept on same pace, 2nd of 14, 1 1/2l behind Dan Buoy (10-12) at Southwell 3m hcp hdl 0-115 (4) gs.