Second-season hurdlers have an appalling record in this race which is a worrying trend for supporters of last month's Haydock scorer Balder Success, Gerry Feilden winner Lyvius and the returning Ranjaan. The latter will be worth keeping in mind for one of these big handicaps later in the season however. Olofi was raised 8lb after winning at Cheltenham and runner-up Cash And Go is now 4lb better off. He looks the pick of Nicky Henderson's quartet as top weight Petit Robin would have to be a very smart performer to complete his hat-trick under a welter burden on ground this soft. IT'S A GIMME only found last year's winner Raya Star too good on his reappearance over C&D and, given he stays further, shouldn't be stopping at the end of this. AP McCoy has opted to ride the Jonjo O'Neill gelding ahead of Guinness Hurdle second Princeton Plains and Tony Martin's Down Royal runner-up Thomas Edison so he gets the nod. Rigidity, second 12 months ago off a similar mark and runner-up at Musselburgh last month, could be best of the rest though Dan Breen has done well since being put back over hurdles and Into Wain could figure off bottom weight.
Petit Robin (FR) 11-1 (11-5) Tracked leaders, took keen hold, led before 2 out, strongly challenged after last, all out, just held on, won at Sandown 2m Listed hcp hdl (1) sft beating Into Wain (10-2) by ns, 12 ran.
Balder Succes (FR) 1-2fav (11-2) Tracked leaders in 3rd, went 2nd before 3 out, led before last, stayed on strongly and drew clear run-in, ridden out, won at Haydock 2m 4yo hdl (2) sft in Nov beating Hollow Tree (11-6) by 6l, 4 ran.
Cash And Go (IRE) 6-1 (11-2) Mid-division, headway before 3 out, effort on inside approaching last, went 2nd flat, kept on, not reach winner, 2nd of 18, 2 1/2l behind Olofi (10-11) at Cheltenham 2m hcp hdl Grade 3 (1) sft in Nov.
Olofi (FR) 8-1 (10-11) Mid-division on outside, headway 4 out, went 3rd 2 out, effort when not much room on stands side rail and switched left before last, led soon after, stayed on well flat, won at Cheltenham 2m hcp hdl Grade 3 (1) sft in Nov beating Cash And Go (11-2) by 2 1/2l, 18 ran.
Bothy 10-1 (11-7) Led to 2nd, led after 4 out, headed before 2 out, weakened before last, 3rd of 4, 33l behind Countrywide Flame (11-7) at Newcastle 2m hdl G1 (1) hvy.
Cause Of Causes (USA) 12-1 (11-0) Held up behind, headway 3 out, chased leaders before last, ridden and staying on when not clear run and switched left flat, went 3rd towards finish, not reached leaders, 3rd of 18, 4l behind Olofi (10-11) at Cheltenham 2m hcp hdl Grade 3 (1) sft in Nov.
Rattan (USA) 25-1 (11-3) Towards rear, headway after 4 out, chased leaders after 2 out, kept on same pace on stands side rail approaching last, no impression, 6th of 18, 6l behind Olofi (10-11) at Cheltenham 2m hcp hdl Grade 3 (1) sft in Nov.
Double Ross (IRE) 4-1fav (11-10) Led, ridden and hit last, headed run-in, lost 2nd last 100 yards, no extra, 4th of 12, 7l behind Yesyoucan (10-12) at Haydock 2m 4f hcp hdl (2) sft in Nov.
Ranjaan (FR) 7-2fav (10-5) Raced keenly, held up mid-division, switched outside approaching 3rd, headway 5th, led when not fluent 2 out, hard pressed when not fluent again last, ridden out flat, won at Taunton 2m 1f hcp hdl 0-145 (2) gs in Jan beating Third Intention (11-12) by 3 1/2l, 12 ran.
It's A Gimme (IRE) 7-1 (10-12) Held up in touch in mid-division, headway to chase leaders approaching 2 out, chased winner and strong challenge flat, every chance until found no extra towards finish, 2nd of 15, 1/2l behind Raya Star (11-12) at Ascot 2m Listed hcp hdl (1) gs in Nov.
Princeton Plains (IRE) 5-2fav (11-7) Chased leaders, 4th halfway, ridden in close 4th and not clear run 2 out, stayed on to challenge approaching last, strongly pressed winner in 2nd run-in, no extra last strides, 2nd of 10, nk behind Lough Ferrib (10-12) at Listowel 2m hcp hdl hvy in Sep.
Urbain De Sivola (FR) 12-1 (10-7) 8th of 9, well behind Esmondo (10-7) at Auteuil(FR) 2m 3f 4yo hdl Grade 1 (1) hvy in Nov.
Kazlian (FR) 9-1 (10-11) In touch, mistake 4 out, weakened after 2 out, 14th of 18, 39l behind Olofi (10-11) at Cheltenham 2m hcp hdl Grade 3 (1) sft in Nov.
Thomas Edison (IRE) 7-1 (10-6) Waited with, improved travelling well to track leaders from 2 out, struggling to get to winner when not fluent and kept on same pace from last, 2nd of 13, 4l behind Beef To The Heels (9-3) at Down Royal 2m hcp hdl 0-150 gs in Nov.
Dan Breen (IRE) 12-1 (11-2) In touch, headway 3 out, went 2nd approaching next, led narrowly between last 2, headed and 1 length down when stumbled and almost unseated rider last, soon lost place, kept on same pace, 3rd of 17, 20l behind Dark Lover (11-8) at Cheltenham 2m 1f hcp hdl 0-135 (3) hvy.
Lyvius 7-2 (10-7) Chased leaders, led 2 out, ridden clear last, comfortably, won at Newbury 2m lst hcp hdl (0-150) (1) sft in Nov beating Edgardo Sol (11-3) by 2l, 6 ran.
Rigidity 85-40 (11-1) Chased leaders, went 2nd after 4th, hit next, no chance when lost 2nd approaching 4 out, rallied to 2nd again approaching last, never any chance with unchallenged winner, 2nd of 6, 11l behind Kie (10-7) at Musselburgh 2m beg chs (3) gd in Nov.
Bar De Ligne (FR) 10-1 (10-13) Held up towards rear, headway before 4 out, went 5th 3 out, weakened before last, 5th of 12, 14l behind Yesyoucan (10-12) at Haydock 2m 4f hcp hdl (2) sft in Nov.
First In The Queue (IRE) 16-1 (10-5) Held up towards rear, headway from 2 out, went 2nd flat, stayed on, not able to get to winner, 2nd of 10, 1/2l behind Petit Robin (11-9) at Ascot 2m hcp hdl 0-145 (2) sft in Nov.
First Avenue 10-1 (11-2) Held up in last pair, good headway on inside to chase leading pair 2 out, ridden to challenge in 2nd and every chance when fell last, in a race won by General Ting (10-3) at Sandown 2m hcp hdl 0-130 (3) sft in Nov, 12 ran.
Into Wain (USA) 15-2 (10-2) Mid-division, headway 2 out, soon chasing leaders, every chance after last, just failed, 2nd of 12, ns behind Petit Robin (11-5) at Sandown 2m Listed hcp hdl (1) sft.