This is generally a race for experienced chasers and there has only been one winner below the age of eight in the last 10 years - Silver Birch - and he went on to win the Grand National. Those stats might count against Vesper Bell, Storm Survivor, Bennys Mist and Ballybough Gorta. This looks too far for Walkon while Junior and Roberto Goldback could have too much weight. Big Fella Thanks was third in the race last year but only a nose in front of the running-on Swing Bill, who is 8lb better off and finished sixth in the Grand National in April. On His Own was a leading fancy in that race but was beaten when falling on the second circuit while Join Together and Across The Bay finished in mid-division. David Pipe's grey looks to have decent each-way claims but WYCK HILL appeals as the type that will take to these unique obstacles and David Bridgwater's charge, on a potentially lenient mark, gets a tentative vote after a pipe-opener at Ascot. Gullible Gordon and Chance du Roy have both jumped around here in the past but so has Planet Of Sound and he's probably better handicapped.
Junior 15-2 (11-12) Close up early, soon tracked leaders in 4th, ridden and one pace from 4 out, in 5th and well held when blundered 2 out, 5th of 8, 21l behind Lost Glory (10-9) at Wetherby 3m 1f hcp chs (2) gd in May.
Walkon (FR) 7-2fav (11-1) Bumped 1st, soon mid-division, headway 8th, mistake 12th, shaken up and tracking leaders when blundered badly and unseated rider 4 out, in a race won by Conquisto (11-0) at Aintree 2m 4f ltd hcp chs Grd 2 (1) gd in Oct, 11 ran.
Big Fella Thanks 33-1 (11-12) Chased leaders, went 2nd 7th, weakened 12th, behind when mistake next, tailed off, 12th of 16, well behind Houblon Des Obeaux (11-3) at Ascot 3m Grade 3 hcp chs (4yo+) (1) gs in Nov.
Roberto Goldback (IRE) 14-1 (11-5) Held up in touch in mid-division, slightly hampered 4th, steady headway 14th, chased leaders 4 out, driven in 6th after 3 out, keeping on when stumbled badly after last, went 4th final 100 yards, almost snatched 3rd, 4th of 16, 9l behind Houblon Des Obeaux (11-3) at Ascot 3m Grade 3 hcp chs (4yo+) (1) gs in Nov.
Across The Bay (IRE) 16-1 (11-8) Led, ridden and headed before 3 out, weakening when not fluent next, 5th of 6, 36l behind Tidal Bay (11-8) at Wetherby 3m 1f hdl G2 (1) gs in Nov.
Join Together (IRE) 6-1 (10-7) 6th of 13, well behind Shannon Rock (10-7) at Auteuil(FR) 3m 3f Grade 1 chs (1) hvy in Nov.
On His Own (IRE) 9-1 (11-10) Led, headed 5th and tracked leader in 2nd, pushed along entering straight and mistake 2 out, soon no impression in 3rd and no extra run-in, last of 6, 6l behind Rule The World (11-10) at Naas 2m 4f hdl in Oct.
Planet of Sound 12-1 (11-11) Tracked leaders, weakened before 4 out, pulled up before 3 out, in a race won by Battle Group (10-9) at Aintree 3m 1f lstd hcp chs (1) gd in Apr, 18 ran.
Bostons Angel (IRE) (10-10) in a race won by Toutancarmont (10-10) at Le Lion D'angers(FR) 4m 4f lst chs (1) sft in May, 14 ran.
Vesper Bell (IRE) 7-1 (11-4) Tracked leaders, 6th halfway, 4th 5 out and headway in 3rd approaching straight, ridden to lead 2 out and drifted right under pressure last, kept on run-in, no extra close home and headed on line, 2nd of 19, hd behind Goonyella (10-0) at Punchestown 3m 6f hcp chs 0-145 hvy in Apr.
Wyck Hill (IRE) 8-1 (11-0) Mid-division, pushed along and outpaced after 14th, never on terms after, 9th of 16, 30l behind Houblon Des Obeaux (11-3) at Ascot 3m Grade 3 hcp chs (4yo+) (1) gs in Nov.
Swing Bill (FR) 80-1 (10-8) Tracked leaders, outpaced before 2 out, ridden and one pace last, no impression flat, 6th of 40, 35l behind Auroras Encore (10-3) at Aintree 4m 3f (1) gs in Apr.
Ikorodu Road 12-1 (11-5) Held up in 4th, chased clear pair 2 out, ridden and rallied approaching last, soon challenged, led flat, stayed on well, won at Stratford 2m 4f hcp chs 0-135 (3) sft in Oct beating Passato (10-13) by 4 1/2l, 8 ran.
Sizing Australia (IRE) 2-1fav (11-9) Tracked leaders, 3rd at 23nd, 2nd 4 out, ridden in 2nd when left in front on bend before 2 out, clear at last, strongly pressed run-in, headed near line, 2nd of 13, hd behind Love Rory (11-2) at Punchestown 3m crs cntry chs (5yo+) in Nov.
Baby Run (FR) 6-1fav (10-12) Led, until 5th, led again 10th, headed 20th, chased leader, led again before 3 out, ridden and headed 2 out, chased leader until approaching last, stayed on same pace flat, 3rd of 18, 3 1/2l behind Poker De Sivola (10-12) at Sandown 3m 5f hcp chs G3 (1) gf in Apr '11.
Pineau De Re (FR) 33-1 (10-12) Held up behind on outside, headway 3 out, switched inside and chased leaders before last, ridden and kept on flat, just failed for 4th, 5th of 17, 4l behind Return Spring (9-13) at Cheltenham 3m 1f Listed hcp hdl (1) gd in Nov.
Rose Of The Moon (IRE) 12-1 (11-6) Tracked leaders, hampered and lost place 18th, soon outpaced, not recover and pulled up before 21st, in a race won by Back In Focus (11-6) at Cheltenham 4m am nov chs (2) gs in Mar, 16 ran.
Chance du Roy (FR) 16-1 (11-8) Chased leaders, lost place 16th, weakened 4 out, tailed off, 8th of 9, well behind Life Of A Luso (10-1) at Cheltenham 3m 1f hcp chs 0-150 (2) sft in Apr.
Gullible Gordon (IRE) 33-1 (11-5) Mid-division when blundered and unseated rider 18th, in a race won by Balthazar King (11-8) at Cheltenham 3m 7f crs cntry chs (5yo+) (2) gd in Nov, 11 ran.
Chartreux (FR) 16-1 (10-9) Prominent, not fluent 6th, weakened from before 3 out, 15th of 18, 46l behind White Star Line (10-4) at Listowel 3m sft in Sep.
Storm Survivor (IRE) 14-1 (10-12) In touch, headway to 3rd before 3 out, left disputing 2nd at the last, driven and stayed on strongly flat, every chance towards finish, just held in 3rd close home, 3rd of 14, 3/4l behind Al Co (11-0) at Chepstow 3m hcp chs 0-150 (2) gd in Oct.
Mr Moonshine (IRE) 12-1 (11-2) Mid-division, headway halfway, soon chasing leaders, weakened 4 out, 7th of 12, 47l behind Sydney Paget (10-13) at Haydock 3m 1f hcp chs 0-145 (2) sft in Nov.
Bennys Mist (IRE) 16-1 (11-7) Tracked leaders, mistake 3rd, went 2nd 2 out until bend before last, weakened, tailed off, 6th of 9, well behind Mart Lane (11-3) at Stratford 2m 4f hcp chs 0-140 (3) sft in Oct.
Ballybough Gorta (IRE) 25-1 (10-0) Tracked leaders, driven 14th, lost place 16th, behind 3 out, 9th of 13, 30l behind Alvarado (10-0) at Cheltenham 3m 3f Grade 3 hcp chs (4yo+) (1) gd in Nov.