Posh Bird bids to repeat last year's victory in this marathon off an 18lb higher mark but there are several durable and in-form stayers in this year's renewal that may be better handicapped. Pentiffic revels in soft ground and returned to winning ways at Musselburgh last week, though that means he now carries a penalty. Lively Baron has won at Kelso and Sandown this season while Jaunty Journey and Chac Du Cadran have been knocking on the door. Cloudy Too may lack the experience for a race of this nature, however. NIGHT IN MILAN ran a cracker behind Court In Motion over 3m at Doncaster last month when the disappointing King Fontaine was down the field. He does have his stamina to prove over this longer trip but was placed over 3m3f over hurdles at Kelso earlier and could be the one to beat if he lasts home as Desperate Dex may find this too tough and Soudain had an alternative engagement yesterday. Any Currency has AP McCoy in the saddle but might struggle under top weight on soft ground.
Any Currency (IRE) 12-1 (10-4) Tracked leaders, 4th when hit 15th (canal turn) and unseated rider, in a race won by Hello Bud (10-0) at Aintree 3m 2f Listed hcp chs (1) hvy in Dec, 16 ran.
Lively Baron (IRE) 15-8fav (10-5) Tracked leaders, not fluent 4th and 6th, led after 4 out, strongly challenged from 2 out, all out, held on well, won at Sandown 3m 5f hcp chs 0-150 (2) sft in Dec beating Major Malarkey (10-12) by nk, 5 ran.
Cloudy Too (IRE) 12-1 (11-1) Led, jumped mainly right, headed 6th, lost place 5 out, ridden before 3 out, never dangerous, 4th of 5, 20l behind Rocky Creek (11-1) at Doncaster 3m nov chs (4) gs in Dec.
Night In Milan (IRE) 12-1 (10-0) Towards rear, ridden before 11th, headway before 2 out, in 5th at last, stayed on strongly on outer, just held close home, 2nd of 16, ns behind Court By Surprise (10-10) at Doncaster 3m hcp chs 0-150 (2) gs in Dec.
Pentiffic (NZ) 9-4fav (10-9) Tracked leader, led before 12th, ridden before last, soon clear, eased towards finish, won at Musselburgh 3m hcp chs 0-135 (3) sft beating Stormin Exit (11-6) by 14l, 7 ran.
Posh Bird (IRE) 18-1 (11-2) Held up towards rear, steady headway from 3 out, no impression, 8th of 14, 21l behind Isla Pearl Fisher (10-12) at Musselburgh 3m hcp chs 0-135 (3) gs in Dec.
Lord Villez (FR) 10-1 (11-2) Led until headed after 10th, chased leaders, pushed along in 3rd before 2 out, no extra last, lost modest 3rd towards finish, 4th of 8, 6l behind Mortimers Cross (10-10) at Kelso 4m hcp chs 0-145 (2) sft in Dec.
King Fontaine (IRE) 16-1 (10-7) Towards rear, pushed along before 12th, headway before 5 out, weakened 2 out, 9th of 16, 29l behind Court By Surprise (10-10) at Doncaster 3m hcp chs 0-150 (2) gs in Dec.
Jaunty Journey 8-1 (10-5) Chased leaders, led 4 out, mistake 3 out, headed before 2 out, every chance flat, held towards finish, 2nd of 15, 1/2l behind Monsieur Cadou (10-0) at Haydock 3m 4f hcp chs 0-135 (3) sft in Nov.
Chac Du Cadran (FR) 85-40fav (11-8) Tracked winner throughout, ridden and effort before 2 out, switched right between last 2, kept on flat, 2nd of 8, 1 1/4l behind Shaking Hands (11-9) at Towcester 3m hcp chs 0-120 (4) hvy in Dec.
Leac An Scail (IRE) 40-1 (9-7) Tracked leaders, blundered 4 out, effort on inside after 2 out, switched right approaching last, stayed on to press for 2nd flat, no impression with winner, 3rd of 11, 8l behind Outlaw Pete (10-0) at Cheltenham 3m 7f hcp chs (2) hvy in Dec.
Gidam Gidam (IRE) 2-1 (12-0) (cp) lost plce 16; rallied 19; lft 2nd 4 out; led aft nxt; hdd 2 out; led last; stayed on wl, won at Dingley 4m ptp gd in Jun beating Baddam (12-0) by 8l, 5 ran.
Desperate Dex (IRE) 5-1fav (10-11) Mid-division, headway 4 out, ridden to challenge 2 out, stayed on well after last, never reached winner, 2nd of 10, 3 1/2l behind Arbor Supreme (10-4) at Exeter 4m hcp chs 0-125 (3) hvy in Dec.
Soudain (FR) 7-2 (10-11) Keen close up, chased leader 4th, joined leader 13th, led 16th, ridden and joined 2out, driven and stayed on gamely, won at Market Rasen 3m 5f hcp chs 0-120 (4) sft in Dec beating Overyou (11-0) by 2 1/4l, 7 ran.
Super Ally (IRE) 9-4fav (11-0) Tracked leaders on outside, mistake 6th, ridden and outpaced before 2 out, stayed on under pressure to take 3rd last, no impression, 3rd of 7, 13l behind Rolecarr (11-5) at Kelso 2m 7f hcp chs 0-120 (4) hvy in Dec.