Harry Fry has his string firing on all cylinders so the unexposed Opening Batsman, winner of three of his four races over fences, has to go on the short-list here. Cantlow was withdrawn at the start when fancied for a big handicap at Cheltenham and should be thereabouts if fully recovered from a minor setback while Cannington Brook usually runs his race. Ikorodu Road is handicapped to go close if first-time blinkers spark a revival while Storm Survivor and Ballyoliver arrive off the back of recent wins and Mac Aeda has the ability to get involved off bottom weight but BATTLE GROUP looks the one to beat. Kevin Bishop looks to have found the key to the quirky former David Pipe inmate as he skated up over hurdles here on Thursday. Runner-up in this last year off a 6lb higher mark, he can go one better this season. Loch Ba's jumping let him down at Cheltenham and he's probably best watched here while Tour Des Champs can also make mistakes but Duke Of Lucca can't be ignored and looks a better bet than stablemate Planet Of Sound.
Cannington Brook (IRE) 9-1 (11-8) Tracked leaders, reminders before 14th, soon weakened, 6th of 14, 27l behind Well Refreshed (10-0) at Haydock 3m 4f hcp chs G3 (1) hvy in Feb.
Opening Batsman (IRE) 12-1 (10-5) Raced on inside, held up towards rear, headway to chase leaders 9th, went 2nd 2 out, challenged last, led soon after last, stayed on well, won at Kempton 3m hcp chs G3 (1) gd in Feb beating Rolling Aces (11-0) by 2l, 13 ran.
Planet of Sound 40-1 (11-9) In touch on inside, outpaced 4 out, weakened from next, 11th of 24, 42l behind Golden Chieftain (10-2) at Cheltenham 3m hcp chs G3 (1) sft in Mar.
Cantlow (IRE) 4-9fav (11-4) Tracked leader, led 4 out, not fluent 2 out or last, comfortably, won at Taunton 2m 3f nov chs (3) sft in Jan beating Dare Me (10-12) by 14l, 4 ran.
Duke Of Lucca (IRE) 10-1 (10-5) Held up towards rear, headway before 3 out, chased leaders 2 out, stayed on to 3rd flat, no chance with leading duo, 3rd of 13, 8l behind Opening Batsman (10-5) at Kempton 3m hcp chs G3 (1) gd in Feb.
Brave Spartacus (IRE) 9-4fav (11-1) Led at strong pace and soon clear, reduced lead 3rd, headed 6th, chased leader until weakened before 3 out, 5th of 11, 45l behind Annacotty (11-5) at Haydock 2m 4f nh nov hdl (4) gs in Mar.
Loch Ba (IRE) 8-1 (10-10) Behind when blundered and unseated rider 9th, in a race won by Golden Chieftain (10-2) at Cheltenham 3m hcp chs G3 (1) sft in Mar, 24 ran.
Problema Tic (FR) 25-1 (11-7) Mid-division, outpaced 3 out (usual 4 out), soon weakened, 14th of 24, 48l behind Same Difference (11-0) at Cheltenham 3m 1f Amateur Handicap Chase (0-145) (5yo+) (2) gs in Mar.
Tour Des Champs (FR) 20-1 (10-12) Tracked leaders, outpaced 3 out, soon ridden, weakened from next, 8th of 24, 26l behind Golden Chieftain (10-2) at Cheltenham 3m hcp chs G3 (1) sft in Mar.
Ikorodu Road 12-1 (10-11) Held up towards rear, headway to mid-division before 12th, went 3rd 4 out,, 4th of 12, 9l behind Quentin Collonges (10-0) at Doncaster 3m 2f hcp chs (2) gd in Mar.
Johns Spirit (IRE) 14-1 (11-5) Held up, mistake 7th, headway 11th, blundered 4 out, outpaced next, no impression on leaders after, 7th of 20, 17l behind Rajdhani Express (11-7) at Cheltenham 2m 4f Listed Novice Handicap Chase (0-140) (5yo+) (1) sft in Mar.
Blenheim Brook (IRE) 10-3 (11-7) Towards rear, weakened from 3 out, 5th of 8, 31l behind Rolecarr (11-1) at Kelso 2m 7f Am hcp chs 0-135 (3) hvy in Feb.
Russian War (IRE) 3-1 (11-0) Held up in last trio, hit 10th, headway to track leading pair after next, switched inside to challenge between last 2, led narrowly when hit last, ridden clear flat, won at Uttoxeter 2m 6f beg chase (4) gd in Jul beating Paddy The Hare (11-0) by 6l, 7 ran.
Ballyoliver 13-2 (10-10) Tracked leaders, went 2nd from 13th, led 4 out, driven out, won at Ludlow 3m hcp chs 0-140 (3) gs in Feb beating Grove Pride (11-0) by 1l, 9 ran.
Battle Group 8-1fav (10-9) Mid-division, headway approaching 4 out, led 3 out, clear when hung right before last, hung left flat, ran on well, won at Aintree 3m hcp hdl Grade 3 (1) gd beating Jetson (11-7) by 10l, 21 ran.
Garynella (FR) 11-4fav (10-2) Mid-division, headway 2nd, ridden after 5 out, hampered 3 out, no extra when not fluent next, 7th of 11, 32l behind Pacha Du Polder (11-0) at Newbury 2m 4f hcp chs G3 (1) gd in Mar.
Storm Survivor (IRE) 7-1 (11-12) Tracked leaders, went 2nd before 3 out, ridden approaching next, led soon after, kept on flat, won at Bangor 3m hcp chs 0-120 (4) sft in Feb beating Double Dash (11-7) by 2 3/4l, 6 ran.
Mac Aeda 11-1 (10-1) Mid-division, chased leaders 5 out, every chance 3 out, weakened 2 out, 4th of 14, 22l behind Well Refreshed (10-0) at Haydock 3m 4f hcp chs G3 (1) hvy in Feb.