Michael Chapman's Royal Max has shown improved form for going hurdling and has to be respected but he is held by BARIZAN on running here last month and at Market Rasen in November and the Evan Williams-trained gelding can have his measure again, getting the vote with Trumpstoo rated the best of the rest. The selection was capable on the flat in Ireland but looks even better over timber having won each of his last four starts and he can win again. Kevin O'Donnell's Roseska has won her last two outings in races at Clonmel and Gowran Park and has to be considered. Sheena West's Screaming Brave made a pleasing debut over hurdles when finding Causeway King just a length too good in a novices' hurdle at Warwick, while Trumpstoo is closely matched with Nicky Nutjob on running at Wetherby last month and there should not be much between the pair today. Barizan has an obvious chance though and is hard to oppose.
Barizan (IRE) 1-4fav (11-6) Made all, hit 2nd, clear when not fluent 3rd, hit 4th and 5th, mistake 2 out, unchallenged, won at Cheltenham 2m 3yo nov hdl (3) gf in Oct beating Riptide (11-2) by 9l, 4 ran.
Nicky Nutjob (GER) 18-1 (10-12) Chased leaders, went 2nd approaching 4th, hit 4 out, pushed along to lead 3 out, hard pressed from next, kept on gamely flat, won at Wetherby 2m listed nov hdl (1) gd in Oct beating Trumpstoo (11-2) by nk, 8 ran.
Royal Max (IRE) 7-2 (11-5) Led to 3 out, soon driven and outpaced, weakened from next, 3rd of 10, 26l behind Causeway King (10-12) at Warwick 2m 3yo nov hdl (4) gd.
Olofi (FR) 10-1 (10-12) Held up in rear, good headway on outside approaching 3 out, led 2 out, in command when edged right near finish, won at Chepstow 2m 3yo nov hdl (4) gd in Oct beating Blazing Buck (10-9) by 1 3/4l, 12 ran.
Roseska (USA) 11-10fav (10-9) Led and disputed, strongly pressed from 2 out, soon joined, stayed on well run-in, all out, won at Gowran Park 2m 3yo hdl gf in Oct beating Chebona Bula (10-8) by shd, 19 ran.
Pistolet Noir (FR) 4-1 (10-12) Held up in touch, left 3rd at 2nd, went 2nd before 4 out, every chance 2 out, chased winner after, no impression flat, lost 2nd near finish, 3rd of 12, 2l behind Olofi (10-12) at Chepstow 2m 3yo nov hdl (4) gd in Oct.
Screaming Brave 10-3fav (10-12) Tracked leader, headway to lead 3 out, headed when hit next, ridden and kept on under pressure flat, held towards finish, 2nd of 10, 1l behind Causeway King (10-12) at Warwick 2m 3yo nov hdl (4) gd.
Trumpstoo (USA) 3-1 (11-2) Took keen hold, held up, headway and went prominent after 4th, chasing winner when wandered badly left and right 2 out, every chance last, kept on well flat, 2nd of 8, nk behind Nicky Nutjob (10-12) at Wetherby 2m listed nov hdl (1) gd in Oct.
Princess Soraya 28-1 (10-5) Disputed lead with winner until 3rd, stayed 2nd until before 3 out, soon weakened, 5th of 12, 31l behind Dark Oasis (10-5) at Ludlow 2m 3yo mdn hdl (4) gf in Oct.