There looks to be little standing in the way of a fifth success in this for the brilliant QUEVEGA. She's prepared every year with this race in mind and has overcome a similar absence to score in the last three years. In addition to dominating this event, she's also won three Grade 1 races over hurdles and has more than 20lb in hand on her rivals according to official ratings. Kentford Grey Lady was second last year, ahead of Alasi, Shop Dj, Cloudy Spirit and Swincombe Flame and has place claims again but a more interesting challenger is Une Artiste, who has won six of her starts over hurdles and has the beating of Alasi, Kentford Grey Lady and She Ranks Me on this season's form. This is a big step up in grade for Swing Bowler but it would be no surprise to see a big run from Kauto Shiny after a pipe-opener at Warwick and Emmanuel Clayeux has sent Sirene D'ainay over from France on the back of a couple of wins at Pau.
Alasi 9-1 (11-0) Took keen hold, held up in close 3rd and waited with, travelling strongly when switched left after 2 out, went 2nd approaching last, quickened to challenge last, led close home, won at Kempton 2m 4f grd chs (5yo+) (2) gs in Feb beating Champion Court (11-7) by nk, 3 ran.
Kauto Shiny (FR) 33-1 (11-5) Held up mid-division, headway before 2 out, ridden and no extra run-in, 3rd of 8, 5l behind Ma Filleule (11-0) at Warwick 2m 3f hdl G2 (1) hvy in Feb.
Mae's Choice (IRE) 11-1 (11-5) Behind, ridden after 3 out, soon weakened, 5th of 8, 16l behind Ma Filleule (11-0) at Warwick 2m 3f hdl G2 (1) hvy in Feb.
Quevega (FR) 11-10fav (11-3) Settled in 5th, smooth headway to close after 2 out, led approaching last, ridden to assert run-in and stayed on well, won at Punchestown 3m hdl G1 (1) hvy in Apr beating Voler La Vedette (11-3) by 6l, 7 ran.
Shadow Eile (IRE) 8-1 (11-1) Chased leaders, mainly 4th, ridden 3 out, no extra in 5th 2 out, kept on one pace, 5th of 6, 28l behind Monksland (11-8) at Down Royal 2m hdl G2 (1) gd in Nov.
She Ranks Me (IRE) 9-2 (11-7) Held up in 4th off the pace, went 3rd after 3rd, closing in 2nd when left in lead 2 out, soon headed, stayed on same pace flat, no impression on winner, 2nd of 6, 1 3/4l behind Utopie Des Bordes (11-2) at Sandown 2m 4f mares listed nov hdl (1) hvy in Feb.
Sirene D'ainay (FR) 11-4fav (10-5) won at Pau(FR) 2m 4f Listed hdl sft in Feb beating Mazuelo (10-12) by 6l, 10 ran.
Une Artiste (FR) 7-4 (11-8) Led until approaching 2nd, chased leader, closed 3 out, led soon after, in command soon after last, rider dropped whip flat, pushed along and kept on strongly, won at Sandown 2m 4f mrs lst hdl (1) hvy in Jan beating Alasi (11-8) by 1 3/4l, 5 ran.
Cloudy Spirit 33-1 (11-0) Held up in rear, hampered on bend before 7th, headway on inside approaching last, kept on flat, 6th of 19, 5l behind Quevega (11-5) at Cheltenham 2m 4f hdl G2 (1) gd in Mar '12.
Epee Celeste (FR) 33-1 (9-12) Led, jumped slowly and headed 1st, prominent, ridden 7th, weakened after 3 out, 9th of 16, 32l behind Lord Grantham (11-2) at Huntingdon 2m 5f hcp hdl 0-115 (4) gd.
Kaffie 7-1 (11-0) Held up in touch, led 4 out, headed after next, every chance before 2 out, soon ridden, kept on, 4th of 8, 8l behind Ma Filleule (11-0) at Warwick 2m 3f hdl G2 (1) hvy in Feb.
Kentford Grey Lady 2-1fav (10-11) In rear, smooth headway before 3 out, ridden before 2 out, no extra from last, 4th of 7, 3l behind Across The Bay (11-4) at Haydock 3m hdl G2 (1) hvy in Feb.
Lady Kathleen 9-2 (11-2) Held up towards rear, effort over 1f out, no impression, 7th of 12, 8l behind Adiynara (11-2) at Wolverhampton 2m Mares Nat Hunt Flat (4yo+) (AWT) (4) std in Jan.
Miss Milborne 12-1 (10-11) Tracked winner, weakened before 3 out, 5th of 7, 19l behind Across The Bay (11-4) at Haydock 3m hdl G2 (1) hvy in Feb.
Prima Porta 17-2 (11-0) Held up in rear, headway after 8th, went 2nd after 2 out, challenging when not fluent last, soon led, clear towards finish, comfortably, won at Ludlow 2m 5f Mares Handicap Hurdle (0-135) (4yo+) (3) sft in Feb beating Mickie (11-8) by 7l, 9 ran.
Shop Dj (IRE) 11-1 (11-10) Rear of mid-division, ridden 3 out, moderate 8th 2 out, no impression, 9th of 11, 28l behind Avondhu Lady (10-8) at Fairyhouse 2m 4f hcp chs sft in Dec.
Stone Light (FR) 7-2fav (10-5) 3rd of 15, 2 3/4l behind Belle Lumiere (10-10) at Auteuil(FR) 2m 2f hdl hvy in Nov.
Swincombe Flame 4-1 (11-0) Led to 4 out, remained close up, chased winner after last, kept on towards finish, 2nd of 8, 2l behind Ma Filleule (11-0) at Warwick 2m 3f hdl G2 (1) hvy in Feb.
Swing Bowler 8-1 (10-1) Prominent, led 2nd, ridden and joined 2 out, headed between last 2, soon outpaced and no chance with easy winner, one pace in 3rd from the last, 3rd of 21, 6l behind My Tent Or Yours (11-2) at Newbury 2m hcp hdl Grade 3 (1) sft in Feb.