Champion stayer BIG BUCK'S should wrap up his 14th consecutive victory over hurdles with the minimum of fuss as he comfortably saw off stablemate Five Dream, Pettifour and the mare Sparky May on his reappearance in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury last month. He holds Cross Kennon and Restless Harry on last season's win in the World Hurdle at Cheltenham and both of those have been chasing this term. Dynaste is the possible fly in the ointment as he is lightly-raced and was most impressive in beating some seasoned stayers in a Grade 3 handicap at Haydock on his return to action. Diamond Harry and Grands Crus have won that contest in recent years so the five-year-old has a lot to live up to but further progress is likely and it will be interesting to see how he fares in this grade.
Big Buck's (FR) 1-8fav (11-8) Held up towards rear but well in touch, closed 5th, led before next, shaken up to assert last, clear flat, eased close home, won at Newbury 3m hdl G2 (1) gs in Nov beating Five Dream (11-0) by 5l, 6 ran.
Cross Kennon (IRE) 11-4 (11-2) Held up 4th and last, reminders and struggling 9th, lost touch 12th, no chance when jumped right 14th, continued tailed off, last of 4, well behind Golden Chieftain (11-2) at Uttoxeter 3m beg chs (5) gs in Nov.
Dynaste (FR) 7-1 (10-13) Made most, drew clear approaching 3 out, stayed on strongly, easily, won at Haydock 3m hcp hdl Grade 3 (1) gs in Nov beating Benny Be Good (11-4) by 8l, 20 ran.
Five Dream (FR) 25-1 (11-0) Held up towards rear but well in touch, closed 5th, ridden 3 out, went 2nd and not fluent last, stayed on, no chance with eased down winner close home, 2nd of 6, 5l behind Big Buck's (11-8) at Newbury 3m hdl G2 (1) gs in Nov.
Pettifour (IRE) 10-1 (11-0) Tracked leader, led after 5th, headed when not fluent next, challenged winner 8th, ridden 3 out, no impression from 2 out, demoted to 3rd last, stayed on same pace, 3rd of 6, 7l behind Big Buck's (11-8) at Newbury 3m hdl G2 (1) gs in Nov.
Restless Harry 2-1fav (11-1) Tracked leaders, pushed along 5 out, effort 3 out, chased winner approaching last, kept on under pressure, 2nd of 8, 3 1/2l behind Teaforthree (11-1) at Chepstow 3m nov chs (3) hvy.
Sparky May 8-1 (11-1) Held up in rear, took keen hold, closed 5th, taken to stands side breifly 3 out, shaken up after 2 out, unable to make an impression, no extra flat, 4th of 6, 11l behind Big Buck's (11-8) at Newbury 3m hdl G2 (1) gs in Nov.