Only one winner of this in the last eight years has been returned shorter than 10/1 which doesn't bode well for the chances of the well-backed Pendra, second in a Grade 1 novice event at Sandown last time after a couple of wins at Plumpton. A few gambles have been landed, however, so the market should be monitored. The Irish don't have as many entries as usual but Ruby Walsh partners Leopardstown winner Abbey Lane for Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott will be hopeful of a big run from Bondage. Master Of The Sea is on a five-timer for Nigel Twiston-Davies while Medinas will handle conditions, though was raised 8lb after winning on heavy ground at Ffos Las. HOLLOW TREE was well behind that day but that was a rare poor run from Donald McCain's five-year-old. He ran well in the Triumph Hurdle here last year and the handicapper may have finally given him a chance to recapture his smart juvenile form so he gets a tentative vote at decent odds given his yard won this 12 months ago and should know what it takes. In-form pair Mr Watson and Ericht could also be interesting if handling the longer trip but Any Given day and Sadler's Risk have welter burdens to overcome and Black Thunder has been a little disappointing this season.
Any Given Day (IRE) 11-8fav (11-3) Tracked leader, led before 2 out, headed last, soon ridden and every chance, well held towards finish, 2nd of 4, 2 1/2l behind Duke Of Navan (11-3) at Kelso 2m 2f hdl (2) hvy in Feb.
Sadler's Risk (IRE) 25-1 (11-12) Chased leaders, mistake 4 out, hard ridden to challenge after 2 out, kept on well under pressure, never reached winner, 2nd of 13, 1/2l behind Kuilsriver (9-10) at Ascot 2m 3f hcp hdl (2) sft in Feb.
Crack Away Jack 16-1 (11-0) Held up behind, headway 2 out, switched inside and effort between last 2, ridden and one pace approaching last, no impression flat, 5th of 10, 18l behind Reve De Sivola (11-8) at Cheltenham 3m hdl G2 (1) hvy in Jan.
Fiveforthree (IRE) 12-1 (11-10) Held up mid-division, switched right and headway 2 out, edged left soon after, ridden and effort between last 2, disputed 3 lengths 3rd when pecked last, weakened flat, 8th of 13, 9l behind Big Buck's (11-10) at Cheltenham 3m hdl G1 (1) gd in Mar '11.
Medinas (FR) 6-1 (10-10) Mid-division, headway on inside after 4th, led after 3 out, landed awkwardly and headed 2 out, stayed on well to lead again towards finish, won at Ffos Las 2m 4f ltd hcp hdl (2) hvy in Feb beating Peckhamecho (10-8) by 1 1/4l, 14 ran.
Black Thunder (FR) 9-2fav (11-0) Held up towards rear, steady headway approaching 3 out, outpaced in 7th before next, plugged on same pace in 5th flat, 5th of 18, 11l behind Oscara Dara (11-0) at Kempton 2m 5f Listed hcp hdl (1) sft in Jan.
Bondage (IRE) 4-1 (11-7) Held up towards rear in touch, headway 3 out, chased leaders under pressure 2 out, went 2nd last, ridden and kept on flat, no impression with winner, 2nd of 9, 7l behind Coneygree (11-4) at Cheltenham 2m 5f nh nov hdl (1) sft in Nov.
Cash And Go (IRE) 6-1 (10-12) In touch, ridden and one pace approaching 2 out, weakened between last 2, 7th of 21, 16l behind My Tent Or Yours (11-2) at Newbury 2m hcp hdl Grade 3 (1) sft in Feb.
Meister Eckhart (IRE) 11-4 (11-3) Held up in last pair, headway to 4th when blundeered 4 out, recovered to chase leading pair before next, pushed along before 2 out, stayed on to 2nd flat, no chance with easy winner, 2nd of 6, 7l behind Prospect Wells (11-3) at Fontwell 2m 4f hdl G2 (1) sft in Feb.
Un Beau Matin (IRE) 9-2 (11-1) Prominent, 3rd after 4 out, challenged from before 2 out, struggling to get there when slight peck last, kept on run-in, 3rd of 6, 4l behind On His Own (11-3) at Navan 2m 5f hdl G2 (1) hvy in Feb.
Master Of The Sea (IRE) 8-1 (10-11) Mid-division, hit 3rd, headway approaching 8th, travelling well approaching 3 out, went 2nd after 2 out, led before last, hit last, stayed on strongly and came clear run-in, won at Newbury 3m hcp hdl 0-145 (2) sft in Feb beating Captain Sunshine (11-3) by 4l, 18 ran.
Rattan (USA) 25-1 (11-5) Towards rear, plenty to do in rear of mid-division when brought down 2 out, in a race won by Abbey Lane (10-8) at Leopardstown 2m hcp hdl 0-145 hvy in Jan, 28 ran.
Loose Chips 11-1 (11-0) Led, ridden and headed soon after 3 out, weakened before next, tailed off when pulled up soon after 2 out, in a race won by Oscara Dara (11-0) at Kempton 2m 5f Listed hcp hdl (1) sft in Jan, 18 ran.
Owega Star (IRE) 25-1 (11-8) Chased leader mainly 2nd, ridden 3 out and no impression in 6th before last, no extra, 6th of 10, 20l behind Monksland (11-8) at Leopardstown 3m hdl G2 (1) sft in Dec.
Hollow Tree 14-1 (10-12) Prominent, ridden and lost place after 7th, weakened before 3 out, 10th of 14, 44l behind Medinas (10-10) at Ffos Las 2m 4f ltd hcp hdl (2) hvy in Feb.
Abbey Lane (IRE) 16-1 (10-8) Mid-division, 10th 2 out, soon ridden and headway, 5th before last, led early run-in, stayed on well close home, won at Leopardstown 2m hcp hdl 0-145 hvy in Jan beating Rocky Wednesday (10-0) by 2 1/2l, 28 ran.
Mr Watson (IRE) 11-4fav (10-3) Made all, driven and pressed last, soon ridden, stayed on, well in command final 100 yards, won at Cheltenham 2m 1f hcp hdl (2) hvy in Jan beating Kings Lad (10-3) by 4 1/2l, 15 ran.
Pendra (IRE) 6-1 (11-7) Chased leader, led 3rd, ridden and headed last, no extra and held final 150 yards, 2nd of 7, 4 1/2l behind Melodic Rendezvous (11-7) at Sandown 2m nov hdl Grade 1 (1) hvy in Jan.
Barbatos (FR) 12-1 (11-0) In touch, outpaced when not fluent and went left 2 out, weakened before last, 11th of 15, 25l behind Mr Watson (10-3) at Cheltenham 2m 1f hcp hdl (2) hvy in Jan.
Tour D'argent (FR) 12-1 (11-0) Took keen hold, went 3rd 2nd, went 2nd 7th, mistake 4 out, challenged 3 out, every chance when blundered 2 out, soon weakened, left modest 3rd last, 3rd of 5, 13l behind Grandioso (11-4) at Kempton 2m 4f nov chs G2 (1) gd in Feb.
Big Easy (GER) 7-2fav (11-9) In touch, weakened 7th, 10th of 12, well behind Araldur (10-11) at Sandown 2m 6f hcp hdl (2) sft in Dec.
Urbain De Sivola (FR) 20-1 (10-9) Chased leader until before 2 out, soon ridden, weakened after 2 out, 9th of 21, 30l behind Cause Of Causes (10-13) at Ascot 2m Listed hcp hdl (1) hvy in Dec.
Timesawastin (IRE) 5-1 (11-12) Led, hit 6th, headed 4 out, mistake next, soon weakened, 7th of 9, dis behind Grafite (10-2) at Lingfield 2m 3f hcp hdl 0-140 (3) hvy in Dec.
Wyse Hill Teabags 9-2 (10-13) Tracked leaders, hampered 2nd, close up in 5th when blundered and unseated rider 11th, in a race won by Aneyeforaneye (11-2) at Perth 2m 4f nov chs (4) gd in Sep, 8 ran.
Saphir River (FR) 13-2 (11-7) Behind, headway 10th, went 3rd from 5 out, weakened 3 out, 3rd of 7, 21l behind Fourjacks (11-0) at Wetherby 2m 4f nov chs (4) sft in Jan.
Ericht (IRE) 13-2 (11-11) Raced wide, held up in touch, headway travelling well in 3rd before 2 out, led 2 out, in command last, ridden out, won at Kempton 2m 5f nh nov hdl (4) gs in Feb beating Neltara (11-4) by 2 3/4l, 18 ran.
Orsippus (USA) 16-1 (11-0) Tracked leaders in 3rd, ridden to chase winner before 2 out until no extra run-in, 3rd of 4, 5l behind Peddlers Cross (11-0) at Musselburgh 2m 6f hdl (2) gd in Feb.
Buck Magic (IRE) 8-1 (11-8) Mid-division, headway after 9th, switched right to stands rail and led after 3 out, 3 lengths clear last, driven to hold advantage flat, won at Newbury 3m hcp hdl 0-130 (3) gs beating Water Garden (11-5) by 3 1/2l, 12 ran.