COSTA COURTA is worth another chance following his mishap last time and gets the vote to beat Whitewater Dash and Babe Heffron, whilst dour stayer Peut Etre Sivola cannot be totally ruled out. Charlie Mortlock's gelding took second over three miles at Huntingdon on his penultimate start before unseating today's rider when travelling comfortably last time, in the process adding to our belief that he's got a race in him off this mark of 111. Conditions will be fine even if there is some rain so providing that incident hasn't affected his confidence then a big run can be expected. Winning won't be easy though as in Whitewater Dash our selection faces a serious rival. The ten-year-old won in facile fashion last time despite a serious blunder at the first, showing himself an out-and-out stayer in the process. That was only his fourth start over fences and there should be more to come, but the handicapper has asked a serious question of the horse with a 15lb rise and that might be enough of an anchor. Babe Heffron is a tad frustrating but can be hard to pass when getting into a jumping rhythm. The slower tempo over this trip may help him to do so and connections have always said he stays three miles and he did so when winning a point-to-point, but his tendency to throw in a big mistake is enough for us to look else where. It'll be interesting to see who comes out best between him and Peut Etre Sivola though, with David Pipe's horse a thorough stayer who won't be stopping in the closing stages. The softer the ground the better for this one, so if the rain does arrive then his price may well contract but our feeling is he's got enough weight and can be left alone. Rebel Melody came good at around this time last year and must have claims if anywhere near his best, but Charlie Mann's inmate hasn't been as good this term and can only be watched until showing some signs of life. Similar comments apply to High Jack who has looked promising in the past but it's worth noting his wins have all come at Towcester; perhaps connections would do well to return to that Northamptonshire venue. Triggernometry has claims on his win here last April but is another whose form this season is far from inspirational, although it must be said his yard remains in good form and a better showing is likely, but in truth a win is anything but that, with top honours likely to go to Costa Courta in our view.
Peut Etre Sivola (FR) 9-2 (11-11) Held up, in touch when fell 5th, in a race won by Notabotheronme (11-3) at Chepstow 3m hcp chs 0-115 (4) hvy in Jan, 8 ran.
Babe Heffron (IRE) 6-1 (11-0) Led, jumped left throughout, headed approaching 3out, soon weakened, 4th of 8, 20l behind Soixante (11-10) at Kempton 2m 4f hcp chs 0-130 (3) sft in Feb.
Rebel Melody (IRE) 7-1 (11-2) Chased leaders, lost place 6th, soon behind, weakened and pulled up before 10th, in a race won by Fine By Me (9-12) at Wincanton 3m 1f hcp chs 0-125 (3) sft in Dec, 13 ran.
Whitewater Dash 16-1 (11-4) Blundered badly 1st, held up in rear, headway after 13th, led 3 out, clear 2 out, stayed on well, won at Kempton 3m hcp chs 0-100 (4) gd beating Jacarado (10-12) by 15l, 15 ran.
Philson Run (IRE) 33-1 (11-1) Raced wide, held up towards rear, headway and well in touch 9th, pushed along 12th, in rear and struggling before 17th, pulled up before 18th, in a race won by Noble Bily (9-9) at Folkestone 3m 7f hcp chs 0-130 (3) hvy, 10 ran.
Triggernometry 20-1 (10-12) In touch, ridden 12th, soon weakened, 4th of 7, well behind Master Overseer (10-10) at Wincanton 3m 1f hcp chs 0-120 (3) hvy in Dec.
Crank Hill 12-1 (10-6) Mid-division, until lost place and behind from 9th, tailed off, 9th of 13, well behind Teeming Rain (10-10) at Exeter 3m 6f hcp chs 0-125 (3) gs.
High Jack (IRE) 17-2 (11-3) Held up towards rear, headway approaching 6th, mistake and reminders 8th, hit 4 out, weakened before next, 4th of 12, 22l behind Sir Ian (11-3) at Stratford 2m 4f hcp ch 0-110 (4) gd.
Costa Courta (FR) 5-1fav (11-10) Travelled strongly towards rear, headway 9th, close 3rd when blundered and unseated rider 3 out, in a race won by Noakarad De Verzee (11-5) at Huntingdon 3m hcp chs 0-115 (4) sft in Feb, 12 ran.