Big Buck's' injury appears to have thrown the staying division wide-open but Paul Nicholls is trying to fill the gap with Prospect Wells, upped in distance after getting outpaced over 2m at Cheltenham last time, though he has a bit to find with some of these on the form book. Reve de Sivola was second to Big Buck's at Newbury on his reappearance but easily brushed aside and the improving Trustan Times has more scope and was impressive under a big weight in a Haydock handicap four weeks ago. SMAD PLACE was a little disappointing when only third to Tidal Bay at Wetherby and still has a bit to prove. But that run still gives him the beating of Cucumber Run on a line through fourth Fair Along and his overall form is the best on offer here. Master Of The Hall hasn't run over hurdles for almost three years but likes the mud and could run a little better than expected.
Cucumber Run (IRE) 33-1 (11-4) Held up in touch in mid-division, mistake 5th, headway 9th, challenged 3 out, no impression on winner flat, stayed on, 2nd of 17, 2 3/4l behind Fair Along (11-12) at Newbury 3m hcp hdl 0-140 (3) sft in Nov.
Five Dream (FR) 33-1 (11-0) Disputed lead, driven approaching 2 out, soon no chance with easy winner, weakened to 4th last, last of 4, 27l behind Big Buck's (11-8) at Newbury 3m hdl G2 (1) sft.
Kayf Aramis 20-1 (10-11) Led, headed narrowly after 3 out, driven next, every chance between last 2, weakened flat, 8th of 12, 22l behind At Fishers Cross (10-12) at Cheltenham 3m hcp hdl (2) hvy.
Master Of The Hall (IRE) 12-1 (11-10) Held up in rear, blundered 9th, ridden before 3 out, soon weakened, last of 6, well behind Silviniaco Conti (11-5) at Wetherby 3m 1f chs G2 (1) gs in Nov.
Prospect Wells (FR) 15-2 (11-0) Mid-division in touch, headway 4 out, chased leaders under pressure next, kept on same pace, no impression before last, 10th of 18, 17l behind Olofi (10-11) at Cheltenham 2m hcp hdl Grade 3 (1) sft in Nov.
Reve de Sivola (FR) 33-1 (11-0) Held up 4th and last, driven after 4 out, ridden before 2 out, stayed on to take 2nd after last, no chance with winner, 2nd of 4, 9l behind Big Buck's (11-8) at Newbury 3m hdl G2 (1) sft.
Smad Place (FR) 10-11fav (11-4) Held up in touch, ridden and weakened before 2 out, 3rd of 6, 25l behind Tidal Bay (11-0) at Wetherby 3m 1f hdl G2 (1) gs in Nov.
Trustan Times (IRE) 10-1 (11-12) Held up towards rear, taken wide before bend after 6th, headway 4 out, led 2 out, kept on well from last, driven out, won at Haydock 3m hcp hdl Grade 3 (1) sft in Nov beating Holywell (11-0) by 2 3/4l, 16 ran.