Alan King has made no secret of his liking for MONTBAZON and the youngster was an impressive winner at Doncaster last month from another promising type in Close Friend. He still looked in need of the experience on Town Moor but was always travelling well and is a very nice prospect. It's a surprise to find the Irish haven't won this for nine years but that shouldn't prevent big runs from Allure Of Illusion and Steps To Freedom. The former overcame inexperience to score at Killarney in August and will know more this time while Gordon Elliott's charge was an odds-on chance when brought down at Bellewstown in July after an easy debut success at Tipperary. Laveroque couldn't get to Rock On Ruby at Cheltenham but there was certainly no disgrace in that while Oscar Magic is better than he showed in the Festival Bumper and had Tour D'Argent behind on his debut at Kempton. Cinders And Ashes led for a long way at Cheltenham and didn't fade until late in the race so today's tighter track will be greatly in his favour and he could hang on for a place at least. An outsider with a chance is Nuts N Bolts, who took an age to warm up at Doncaster last month but was noted going on strongly behind Fourth Estate and will have come on for the run, his first for a year.
Allure Of Illusion (IRE) 6-4fav (11-7) Tracked leader in 2nd on inner, lost place entering straight, soon 5th, ridden and progress from 2f out, 3rd 2f out, 2nd 1f out, stayed on well to lead close home, won at Killarney 2m 1f 4yo nhf gf in Aug beating Maddoxtown (11-7) by 1/2l, 12 ran.
Broadbackbob (IRE) 4-1 (10-12) Held up towards rear, headway on inner over 3f out, challenged on bit over 2f out, led over 1f out, ran on strongly, won at Catterick 2m cond & am NH flat (6) gs in Jan beating Little Hercules (11-9) by 4l, 13 ran.
Distime (IRE) 7-2 (11-4) Tracked leaders and keen, ridden and weakened over 2f out, 7th of 13, 15l behind Fourth Estate (10-13) at Doncaster 2m NH flat (6) gd in Mar.
Gallox Bridge 12-1 (10-13) Held up, headway over 5f out, led 3f out, clear over 1f out, ran on well, won at Fontwell 1m 6f NH flat (6) sft in Feb '10 beating J'adhere (11-6) by 8l, 13 ran.
Laveroque (FR) 16-1 (11-4) Chased leaders, ridden and not pace of winner over 1f out, kept on to take 2nd close home, 2nd of 15, 5l behind Rock On Ruby (11-4) at Cheltenham 2m NH flat Listed (1) gs in Nov.
Nuts N Bolts 3-1fav (11-9) Held up mid-division, ridden and headway over 4f out, stayed on well inside final furlong, 3rd of 13, 3l behind Fourth Estate (10-13) at Doncaster 2m NH flat (6) gd in Mar.
Peckhamecho (IRE) 7-1 (11-3) Tracked leaders, led over 7f out, driven and headed inside final 2f, kept on same pace, no impression with leading pair from over 1f out, 3rd of 9, 12l behind Ericht (11-3) at Newbury 2m nat hunt flat Grade 2 (1) sft in Feb.
Persian Snow (IRE) 10-11fav (11-6) Tracked leading pair, pushed along over 3 out, ridden and swiched left to rails inside final 2f, challenged for 2nd final furlong, eased when held close home, 3rd of 6, 2 1/2l behind Mono Man (11-6) at Ascot 2m NH flat (3) sft in Feb.
Real Tempo (FR) 20-1 (11-4) Raced wide, pulled hard, led until 10f out, handy until lost place over 4f out, rallied on outside over 3f out, 3rd and every chance when badly hampered and pushed left over 2f out, no impression on leading duo over 1f out, 3rd of 16, 8l behind Cheltenian (11-4) at Kempton 2m mdn NH flat (5) gs in Feb.
Richie Rob 7-1 (11-0) Held up behind, headway over 6f out, chased leaders over 4f out, led over 2f out, clear over 1f out, kept on well, won at Carlisle 2m 1f Conditional Nat Hunt Flat Maiden (4-6yo) (6) hvy in Feb beating Rojo Vivo (10-12) by 22l, 9 ran.
Saint Luke (IRE) 66-1 (11-5) Close up on outside, effort over 4f out to over 3f out, kept on same pace, weakened final furlong, 12th of 24, 20l behind Cheltenian (11-5) at Cheltenham 2m N H flat G1 (1) gd in Mar.
Steps To Freedom (IRE) 9-10fav (11-8) Chased leaders, 5th halfway, headway into 3rd 3f out, ridden when clipped heels and fell 2f out, in a race won by Viking Visitor (11-7) at Bellewstown 2m 1f N H flat gf in Jul, 8 ran.
Cinders And Ashes 14-1 (10-12) In touch on inside, headway to lead narrowly over 3f out, ridden and headed well over 1f out, no extra final furlong, 5th of 24, 16l behind Cheltenian (11-5) at Cheltenham 2m N H flat G1 (1) gd in Mar.
Ebanour (IRE) 13-8fav (11-2) Held up towards rear, headway over 3f out, staying on same pace when hung right from 1f out, 3rd of 10, 5l behind Ballyclough (10-4) at Haydock 2m nhf (5) gd in Mar.
Grandioso (IRE) 4-1 (10-0) In touch and keen, took keen hold, headway 3f out, ridden to lead over 1f out, kept on well to draw clear inside final furlong, won at Musselburgh 2m NH flat (5) sft in Feb beating Pyjama Game (11-2) by 5l, 8 ran.
Jonny Delta 5-1 (10-8) Held up in rear in touch, headway to go 2nd over 3f out, led going well over 2f out, soon clear, pushed out, very easily, won at Ayr 2m NH flat (6) hvy in Mar beating Rudemeister (11-2) by 16l, 5 ran.
Matthew Riley (IRE) 2-1fav (11-3) Took keen hold, chased leaders, went 2nd over 3f out, led over 2f out, ridden and narrowly headed inside final furlong, strong rally last strides, just failed, 2nd of 10, ns behind Keep Kicking (10-10) at Sedgefield 2m 1f NH flat (6) sft in Mar.
Montbazon (FR) 13-8fav (10-8) Held up mid-division, went 2nd over 4f out, led on bit over 2f out, ridden over 1f out, kept on well, driven out, won at Doncaster 2m NH flat (2) gd in Mar beating Close House (10-12) by 3 1/2l, 18 ran.
Oscar Magic (IRE) 12-1 (10-12) Soon towards rear, outpaced 6f out, ridden and headway under pressure 2f out, ran on inside final furlong, never able to reach leaders, 9th of 24, 19l behind Cheltenian (11-5) at Cheltenham 2m N H flat G1 (1) gd in Mar.
Tour D'argent (FR) 9-4fav (11-0) Held up in touch, chased leaders over 3f out, ridden to challenge over 1f out, soon one pace, no chance with winner, 2nd of 17, 3 1/2l behind Oscar Magic (10-4) at Kempton 2m NH flat (5) gs in Feb.