This could turn out to be one of the best races of the week with most of the 15 declared runners having some sort of chance on their best form. Several have already met this season with O'Faolains Boy beating Many Clouds in a Grade 2 at Wetherby last month with Gevrey Chambertin pulled up. The runner-up is 4lb better off here, however, and might turn the tables though he'd lost out to Black Thunder at Haydock in November and that line of form suggests the unbeaten Corrin Wood may have his measure. Sam Winner reversed earlier course running with Le Bec over a longer trip here in December and was giving SMAD PLACE 3lb when beaten two lengths at Newbury last month. But we fancy Alan King's improving grey, a classy staying hurdler, to confirm the form and he'll be a threat to all if still in contention coming down the hill for the final time so gets the nod. Annacotty won the Feltham at Kempton on Boxing Day and has run well here since but winners of that Kempton feature have a poor record in this. Ballycasey beat Don Cossack four lengths in the Moriarty at Leopardstown last month but Carlingford Lough was challenging when hampered and unseating his rider at the last and had earlier beaten Morning Assembly in a Grade 1.
Annacotty (IRE) 8-1 (11-12) Disputed lead and clear of rest until led 4th, ridden and hard pressed 2 out, headed last, rallied flat, held towards finish, 2nd of 11, 1 3/4l behind Indian Castle (11-3) at Cheltenham 2m 5f nov chs (2) hvy in Jan.
Ballycasey (IRE) 2-1 (11-10) Led, joined briefly entering straight, edged left under pressure run-in, kept on well, won at Leopardstown 2m 5f nov chs G1 (1) in Feb beating Don Cossack (11-10) by 4l, 3 ran.
Black Thunder (FR) 10-11fav (11-8) Tracked leaders, went 2nd 5th, hit 4 out, closed before 2 out, driven approaching last, unable to challenge, 2nd of 4, 2 1/2l behind Corrin Wood (11-8) at Warwick 3m nov chs (2) hvy in Jan.
Carlingford Lough (IRE) 11-4 (11-10) Tracked leaders in 3rd, ridden entering straight, short of room last where bumped wing and unseated rider, in a race won by Ballycasey (11-10) at Leopardstown 2m 5f nov chs G1 (1) in Feb, 3 ran.
Corrin Wood (IRE) 2-1 (11-8) Jumped right but very well, made all, driven out, won at Warwick 3m nov chs (2) hvy in Jan beating Black Thunder (11-8) by 2 1/2l, 4 ran.
Don Cossack (GER) Evensfav (11-10) Tracked leader in 2nd, ridden to dispute briefly entering straight, edged left approaching last, under pressure and no impression on winner run-in, 2nd of 3, 4l behind Ballycasey (11-10) at Leopardstown 2m 5f nov chs G1 (1) in Feb.
Gevrey Chambertin (FR) 13-8fav (11-0) Prominent, took keen hold, led after 4th, headed 7th, led again after next, headed before 2 out, soon weakened, pulled up before last, in a race won by O'Faolains Boy (11-0) at Ascot 3m nov chs G2 (1) sft in Feb, 6 ran.
Just A Par (IRE) 8-13fav (11-7) Prominent, joined leader halfway, driven after 5 out, weakened 3 out, 4th of 5, 29l behind Annacotty (11-7) at Kempton 3m nov chs Grade 1 (4yo+) (1) sft in Dec.
Le Bec (FR) 7-4 (11-9) Not always fluent, tracked leader, mistake 10th, challenged 3 out, edged left and bumped rival after 2 out, no impression final 100 yards, 2nd of 4, 4l behind Sam Winner (11-1) at Cheltenham 3m 1f nov chs (2) gd in Dec.
Many Clouds (IRE) 2-1 (11-4) Tracked leaders, went 2nd 10th, led before 2 out, soon headed, stayed on same pace last, 2nd of 6, 2 1/2l behind O'Faolains Boy (11-0) at Ascot 3m nov chs G2 (1) sft in Feb.
Morning Assembly (IRE) 11-8fav (11-10) Chased leaders, 3rd halfway, disputed 3rd from 8 out, close up 2 out, ridden to narrow lead approaching last, headed run-in, no extra and kept on same pace, 2nd of 7, 1 1/2l behind Carlingford Lough (11-10) at Leopardstown 3m nov chs Grade 1 (4yo+) (1) in Dec.
O'faolains Boy (IRE) 8-1 (11-0) In touch, jumped slowly 4th, closed 7th, ridden after 3 out, challenged next, soon led, edged right before last, stayed on, won at Ascot 3m nov chs G2 (1) sft in Feb beating Many Clouds (11-4) by 2 1/2l, 6 ran.
Samingarry (FR) 6-1 (10-8) Mid-division, chased leaders under pressure after 14th, soon ridden, kept on same pace, never on terms, 5th of 11, 21l behind Indian Castle (11-3) at Cheltenham 2m 5f nov chs (2) hvy in Jan.
Sam Winner (FR) 5-2 (11-8) Led, narrowly headed 12th (3 out), chased winner, every chance last, no extra run in, 2nd of 4, 2l behind Smad Place (11-5) at Newbury 3m nov chs (3) hvy in Feb.
Smad Place (FR) 9-4 (11-5) Tracked leader, challenged 10th, led narrowly 12th (3 out), driven and stayed on to asert run in, won at Newbury 3m nov chs (3) hvy in Feb beating Sam Winner (11-8) by 2l, 4 ran.