Celestial Halo made Solwhit fight all the way to the line when trying 3m for the first time in the World Hurdle at Cheltenham. He may last longer out in front on this easier track and should confirm that running with third Smad Place and sixth Oscara Dara, though whether he'll be good enough to reverse running with the winner is another matter. That may not have been the greatest renewal of the Grade 1, however, and it would be no surprise if something popped up to upset the apple cart here. There must be a reason why Barry Geraghty prefers the lightly-raced Bear's Affair to Oscara Dara while Grands Crus reverts to hurdles after an unhappy season over fences and could figure. Holywell and Medinas both won valuable handicaps at The Festival but we'll take a chance on the tough novice AFRICAN GOLD. He found At Fishers Cross too strong in his race at Cheltenham but that was no disgrace as the heavy going would not have been ideal. He'll appreciate the better ground today and could represent a bit of value with the novice hurdle form at The Festival looking very strong.
African Gold (IRE) 9-2 (11-7) Mid-division, headway 7th, challenged after 2 out, led before last, not fluent and headed at hurdle, no impression on winner flat, just held on for 2nd, 2nd of 13, 4 1/2l behind At Fishers Cross (11-7) at Cheltenham 3m nov hdl Grade 1 (1) sft in Mar.
American Spin 50-1 (11-2) Tracked leaders, lost place after 3 out, weakened next, 16th of 24, 36l behind Holywell (11-4) at Cheltenham 3m lstd hcp hdl (1) gs in Mar.
Any Given Day (IRE) 40-1 (11-5) In touch, lost place 4 out, soon ridden and behind, tailed off, 24th of 28, well behind Medinas (11-10) at Cheltenham 2m 5f hcp hdl Grade 3 (1) gs in Mar.
Attaglance 17-2 (10-12) Set modest pace and clear until 6th, quickened before 4 out, headed 2 out, held by front pair final 100 yards, 3rd of 4, 1 1/4l behind Viva Colonia (11-4) at Musselburgh 2m 4f nov chs (3) gs in Feb.
Bear's Affair (IRE) 8-1 (11-7) In touch, ridden in 5th approaching 2 out, weakened between last 2, no chance in 6th when badly hampered last, 6th of 18, 14l behind Oscara Dara (11-0) at Kempton 2m 5f Listed hcp hdl (1) sft in Jan.
Celestial Halo (IRE) 40-1 (11-10) Held up in touch, headway 3 out, went 2nd next, challenged between last 2, driven to lead when mistake last, soon headed and ridden, kept on same pace flat, 2nd of 13, 2 1/2l behind Solwhit (11-10) at Cheltenham 3m hdl G1 (1) gs in Mar.
Grands Crus (FR) 5-2fav (11-5) Held up in rear, headway into mid-division 11th, weakened 15th, pulled up 4 out, in a race won by Cape Tribulation (11-6) at Cheltenham 3m 1f chs Grd 2 (1) hvy in Jan, 10 ran.
Holywell (IRE) 25-1 (11-4) Tracked leaders, went 2nd after 3 out, challenged going well after next, shaken up to lead before last, ridden and held on flat, won at Cheltenham 3m lstd hcp hdl (1) gs in Mar beating Captain Sunshine (11-1) by 1 1/2l, 24 ran.
Medinas (FR) 33-1 (11-10) Mid-division on inside, headway 4 out, chased leaders after 2 out, ridden to lead flat, kept on, won at Cheltenham 2m 5f hcp hdl Grade 3 (1) gs in Mar beating Meister Eckhart (11-5) by 2l, 28 ran.
Oscara Dara (IRE) 33-1 (11-10) Tracked leaders in 4th, driven and outpaced before 2 out, kept on same pace until weakened approaching last, 6th of 13, 17l behind Solwhit (11-10) at Cheltenham 3m hdl G1 (1) gs in Mar.
Smad Place (FR) 9-1 (11-10) Held up in touch, headway 3 out, chased leaders under pressure 2 out, ridden before last, stayed on flat, went 3rd near finish, no impression with front pair, 3rd of 13, 6l behind Solwhit (11-10) at Cheltenham 3m hdl G1 (1) gs in Mar.
Solwhit (FR) 17-2 (11-10) Mid-division, switched right and headway before 2 out, switched inside and chased leading pair between last 2, ridden to lead soon after last, stayed on well, won at Cheltenham 3m hdl G1 (1) gs in Mar beating Celestial Halo (11-10) by 2 1/2l, 13 ran.
Won In The Dark (IRE) 16-1 (11-7) Chased leaders in 3rd, 4th halfway, ridden and dropped to rear 4 out, soon weakened, pulled up before 3 out, in a race won by Tarla (11-5) at Cork 2m 4f hdl hvy in Mar, 5 ran.