With a recent run over hurdles under his belt it is the admirable GARDE CHAMPETRE who is preferred to stablemate Heads Onthe Ground, whilst 2007 Grand National hero Silver Birch is not to be sniffed at either. Nina Carberry has a fantastic relationship with the selection, winning six from six on the horse over Cross Country courses. He has no ground worries, will have been aimed at this race for ages and has a cracking chance of adding a 12th career success. Stablemate Heads Onthe Ground has plenty of experience and although he has plenty to find with Garde Champetre on runs last season, any market move for him would look interesting. Czech raiders Lirain and Marath are a real unknown quality, along with Swedish raider Lights Out, as is Openide on this course as he tends to get behind and lose interest in his races; this however may help keep him focused. Silver Birch was denied a recent outing between the flags due to postponement and with Aintree again the main aim, the feeling is that his shrewd trainer will have left plenty to work with. Sizing Australia tries this novelty after a winless run over fences, whilst Casadei and Rimsky have plenty to find on official figures but that doesn't always matter in these races. A more international feel to the race than normal however this prize will head to County Limerick and the yard of Enda Bolger.
Garde Champetre (FR) 12-1 (11-0) In rear, some late headway from 3 out, 6th of 13, 27l behind Oscar Dan Dan (11-6) at Thurles 2m 6f hdl gd in Oct.
Lights Out (DEN) (11-9) won at Taby(SWE) 2m 4f chs gs in Oct beating Edvard Den Fjarde (11-4) by 2l, 5 ran.
Soleil Fix (FR) 66-1 (10-6) Towards rear, soon struggling, tailed off when pulled up after 10th (Bechers Brook), in a race won by Irish Raptor (10-0) at Aintree 2m 5f hcp chs (2) gd in Apr, 29 ran.
Marath (CZE) 40-1 (10-9) 12th of 26, well behind Tiumen (10-9) at Pardubice(CZE) 4m 2f crs cntry chs (5yo+) gs in Oct.
Mr Big (IRE) 9-2 (10-9) 16th of 26, well behind Tiumen (10-9) at Pardubice(CZE) 4m 2f crs cntry chs (5yo+) gs in Oct.
Rimsky (IRE) 7-1 (11-3) In touch, ridden 3 out, no impression before next, 6th of 13, 11l behind Native Coral (11-3) at Perth 2m 4f hcp chs 0-130 (3) gd in Apr.
Casadei (IRE) 14-1 (11-5) Soon mid-division, 10th 5 out, kept on same pace under pressure without threatening from before 2 out, 6th of 16, 8l behind Trotsky (11-10) at Fairyhouse 2m 5f hcp chs 0-109 gd in Oct.
Heads Onthe Ground (IRE) 6-1 (12-0) Mid div, rdn in 6th 2out, ko, 5th of 11, 15l behind Kingscliff (12-0) at Loughrea 3m ire ptp gs in Oct.
Lirain (CZE) 100-1 (11-0) in a race won by Tiumen (10-9) at Pardubice(CZE) 4m 2f crs cntry chs (5yo+) gs in Oct, 26 ran.
Openide 16-1 (10-4) In rear, soon not travelling well, mistake 3rd, always behind, 11th of 17, 50l behind Mister Apple's (11-3) at Cheltenham 3m am hcp chs 0-125 (3) gf in Oct.
Silver Birch (IRE) 11-2 (11-12) Chased leader, 2nd halfway, improved to lead 5 out, ridden and headed before last, no extra and kept on same pace, 2nd of 12, 2l behind Garde Champetre (12-7) at Punchestown 4m 2f crs cty chs gs in Apr.
Sizing Australia (IRE) 20-1 (11-12) Prominent, 2nd for most, ridden in 2nd entering straight, no impression on winner from 2 out, kept on same pace, 2nd of 15, 4l behind Coolcashin (11-12) at Thurles 2m 6f beg chs gd in Oct.