Any Given Day ran a strange race in the Relkeel Hurdle over C&D last month, almost tailing himself off in the early stages before producing a withering run in the second half of the race and eventually only finding KARABAK less than two lengths too good at the line. On 4lb better terms, many will expect Donald McCain's much-improved grey to turn the tables but the winner is the type to keep finding more when challenged and can confirm the placings. Celestial Halo, third that day, will struggle to reverse the form with the first two while trail-blazer Barizan's prospects of staying this longer trip appear remote. Duke Of Lucca, on the other hand, probably needs further while Oscar Whisky hasn't raced since finishing fourth in last year's Supreme Novices' Hurdle, though this trip should suit.
Barizan (IRE) 5-1 (11-6) Pressed leader, lost place 5th, dropped rear and ridden after 4 out, edged left and rallied flat, ran on to go 3rd near finish, not reached leaders, 3rd of 5, 4 1/2l behind Carlito Brigante (11-6) at Haydock 2m 4yo hdl (2) gs in Nov.
Karabak (FR) 5-1 (11-2) Held up in touch, hit 3rd, headway 3 out, challenged next, led before last, soon pressed, ridden and rallied when headed briefly flat, stayed on towards finish, won at Cheltenham 2m 4f hdl G2 (1) gs in Dec beating Any Given Day (11-2) by 1 3/4l, 12 ran.
Any Given Day (IRE) 10-1 (11-2) Held up in rear, hit 4th, ridden and outpaced 3 out, headway under pressure on outside between last 2, ridden to challenge last, stayed on to lead briefly flat, kept on, no extra towards finish, 2nd of 12, 1 3/4l behind Karabak (11-2) at Cheltenham 2m 4f hdl G2 (1) gs in Dec.
Celestial Halo (IRE) 10-1 (11-6) In touch on inside, driven to chase leading pair after 2 out, ridden approaching last, kept on same pace, no impression flat, 3rd of 12, 6l behind Karabak (11-2) at Cheltenham 2m 4f hdl G2 (1) gs in Dec.
Duke Of Lucca (IRE) 8-1 (11-12) Tracked leaders on inside, effort and every chance approaching last, ridden and one pace when edged right flat, kept on, 4th of 16, 3 1/2l behind Lush Life (11-2) at Cheltenham 3m hcp hdl (2) gd in Dec.
Oscar Whisky (IRE) 11-1 (11-7) Tracked leaders, mistake 5th, hit 3 out, effort when not much room soon after, ridden and kept on same pace approaching last, 4th of 18, 4l behind Menorah (11-7) at Cheltenham 2m nov hdl G1 (1) gs in Mar.
Secret Dancer (IRE) 12-1 (11-0) Always in rear, 11th of 13, 30l behind Aegean Dawn (9-9) at Ascot 2m hcp hdl 0-145 (2) gs in Nov.