A rise of a stone may not be enough to prevent BALLYDUB adding to his Newbury spoils but he should face fierce opposition from Tazbar and Big Buck's to name but two. Don't Push It has recaptured some form since reverting to hurdling but he appeared to come to the end of his tether halfway up the hill when chasing home Fair Along last time in a race where Pennek was a disappointing favourite. Blue Shark is held in high regard and could be a different proposition now that he's got a run under his belt but he has plenty of questions to answer. Ringaroses is another talented sort with plenty to prove and Tot Of The Knar appeals as a bigger danger although she has been fairly busy this term and has to prove herself at the trip. The trip shouldn't be a problem for Big Buck's who is having his first run over hurdles in this country and he remains an exciting prospect despite his mishap at the last in the Hennessy. Tazbar ran really well on his comeback over an inadequate trip and looks to be competitive from his current mark but he may need more up his sleeve than that to get the better of Ballydub. The selection was no match for Punchestowns on his reappearance but subsequent events have shown that to be no disgrace. He was heavily supported next time and duly won like a good thing and now has to compete from a stone higher mark. He's just had the four starts under Rules though and looks to have plenty more in the locker and Ballydub can make light of the rise.
Tazbar (IRE) 12-1 (11-12) Held up in rear, pushed along after 4th, headway after 4 out, stayed on from 2 out, 3rd of 12, 2 1/2l behind United (11-7) at Haydock 2m 4f hcp hdl (2) sft in Dec.
Big Buck's (FR) 5-1 (11-7) Held up in rear, smooth headway from 4 out to track leaders approaching 3 out, ridden in 3rd and held when blundered and unseated rider 4 out in race won by Madison Du Berlais (11-4) at Newbury 3m 2f hcp chs Grd 3 (1) gs in Nov, 15 ran.
Ballydub (IRE) 5-4fav (10-10) Chased leaders, went second 6th, led 4 out, well clear when hit last, eased towards finish, won at Newbury 3m hcp hdl 0-140 (2) gs in Nov beating Sarde (10-3) by 5l, 17 ran.
Buena Vista (IRE) 33-1 (10-11) Mid-division, effort approaching 2 out, weakened soon after, 11th of 16, 31l behind Fair Along (11-5) at Cheltenham 3m hcp hdl (2) gs in Dec.
Don't Push It (IRE) 12-1 (10-7) Held up behind, steady progress on outer from 7th, ridden to chase winner after 2 out, kept on but always held, 2nd of 16, 6l behind Fair Along (11-5) at Cheltenham 3m hcp hdl (2) gs in Dec.
Ringaroses 10-1 (11-7) Raced wide, always in rear, tailed off when pulled up 3 out in race won by Ballydub (10-10) at Newbury 3m hcp hdl 0-140 (2) gs in Nov, 17 ran.
Blue Shark (FR) 9-2jt-fav (11-3) Chased leader until after 3 out, ridden and weakened before next, 11th of 12, 22l behind Sunnyhillboy (10-12) at Sandown 2m lst hcp hdl (1) gs in Dec.
Tot Of The Knar Evensfav (11-6) Mid-division, led 4 out, ridden and headed 2 out, one pace from last, 2nd of 14, 3l behind Circus Rose (10-11) at Huntingdon 2m 4f mrs nov hdl (3) gs in Dec.
Tisfreetdream (IRE) 4-1 (11-5) Mid-division, headway approaching 7th, led after 3 out, headed approaching 2 out, soon ridden, went left last, stayed on same pace flat, 2nd of 18, 4l behind Weird Al (10-12) at Warwick 2m 5f nh nov hdl (4) sft in Nov.
Pennek (FR) 7-2fav (10-2) In touch, struggling 3 out, kept on same pace from 2 out, 7th of 16, 20l behind Fair Along (11-5) at Cheltenham 3m hcp hdl (2) gs in Dec.
Jug Of Punch (IRE) 100-1 (9-7) Tracked leaders, lost place halfway, tailed off when pulled up at the last in race won by Fair Along (10-13) at Cheltenham 3m 1f lst hcp hdl (1) sft in Nov, 15 ran.