Dan Breen could go well in this, despite top weight, as Mikey Ennis takes off 7lb but Fourth Estate must also go on the short-list after an encouraging comeback at Kempton, though Barry Geraghty keeps faith with Ascot fourth Lyvius. Canadian Diamond has been knocking on the door in this grade of late and is a couple of pounds better off than when beaten half-a-length by Zafranagar at Leicester. UHLAN BUTE got to within a length of the well-treated Lord Protector at Sandown last week on his first start since May. That was also his first start in a handicap and he could be nicely handicapped at present so gets the nod. The Skyfarmer has done little wrong over hurdles so far and only had to be pushed out to defy a penalty last time. This is a step up in grade but he shouldn't be ignored and neither should recent course and distance fourth Maxi Chop.
Dan Breen (IRE) 6-1 (11-7) Tracked leader, lost place approaching 8th, struggling after next, last of 4, well behind Fago (11-7) at Haydock 2m 1f chs (2) sft in Nov.
Lyvius 5-2fav (10-10) Held up off the pace in last trio, headway 8th, blundered 10th, not fluent 3 out, went modest 4th well before 2 out, 4th of 8, 12l behind Ivor's King (10-11) at Ascot 2m 3f (3) gs in Nov.
Canadian Diamond (IRE) 6-1 (11-9) Tracked leaders, led 3rd, ridden and hung right after 2 out, headed towards finish, 2nd of 11, 1/2l behind Zafranagar (10-5) at Leicester 2m hcp hdl 0-125 (3) gs in Nov.
Fourth Estate (IRE) 4-1 (11-0) Chased leaders, went 2nd approaching 2 out, led 2 out, joined last, soon ridden and pressed, edged right under pressure flat, stayed on well until no extra and headed final 50 yards, 2nd of 9, nk behind Ranjaan (11-9) at Kempton 2m cond hcp hdl (0-130) (3) gd in Nov.
Maxi Chop (FR) 25-1 (11-7) Mid-division in touch, headway on outside before 4 out, led narrowly between last 2, headed when not fluent last, no extra in 4th flat, 4th of 19, 9l behind Quick Jack (11-0) at Cheltenham 2m nov hcp hdl (3) gd in Nov.
The Skyfarmer 8-11fav (11-5) Tracked leader, challenged 2 out, led last, kept on well, won at Taunton 2m 3f nh nov hdl (4) gd in Nov beating Badger Wood (10-12) by 2l, 12 ran.
Dresden (IRE) 50-1 (11-12) In touch, went 2nd 4 out, led 2 out, driven and headed between last 2, weakened last, 13th of 19, 30l behind Quick Jack (11-0) at Cheltenham 2m nov hcp hdl (3) gd in Nov.
Uhlan Bute (FR) 20-1 (11-12) Held up towards rear, headway approaching 2 out, went 3rd approaching and hit last, stayed on flat, took 2nd final 100 yards, not reach winner, 2nd of 15, 1l behind Lord Protector (11-2) at Sandown 2m nov hcp hdl 0-120 (4) gs.
Glencree (IRE) 16-1 (11-5) Led, joined after 3rd, hit 3 out, headed next, weakened before last, 8th of 15, 11l behind Hartside (10-3) at Wetherby 2m hcp hdl 0-125 (3) gs in Nov.
Zafranagar (IRE) 9-4fav (10-5) Held up, took keen hold, headway 3 out, went 2nd and pecked slightly last, driven flat, led towards finish, won at Leicester 2m hcp hdl 0-125 (3) gs in Nov beating Canadian Diamond (11-9) by 1/2l, 11 ran.
Western Approaches 6-1 (11-8) Led, driven and headed 2 out, kept on same pace, ridden and no chance with winner flat, 2nd of 6, 6l behind Flying Phoenix (10-13) at Ludlow 2m (4) gd.