Towcester winner Simply Wings appears to be improving and has a very accomplished conditional on board. He shouldn't be far away while Plein Pouvoir is back over his best trip and Lexicon Lad usually makes the frame. Upthemsteps should strip fitter for his fourth at Bangor while Sound Stage is starting to look well treated and The Big Freeze won a novices' handicap at Exeter last week, though carries a penalty for that success. He's still preferred to stablemate Qoubilai, however, and Red Rouble must go on the short-list having scraped home at Leicester last month. VALLEY VIEW ran in snatches on his reappearance at Carlisle but did enough to suggest he should enjoy another successful season and Jonjo O'Neill's gelding, who beat Rebecca's Choice at Exeter a year ago, could represent a bit of value in this competitive heat.
Simply Wings (IRE) 4-1 (10-9) Tracked leaders, challenged 7th, bumped 10th, led before 2 out, soon clear, jumped right and mistake last, easily, won at Towcester 2m 3f beg chs (3) sft beating Baileys Concerto (11-0) by 18l, 7 ran.
Qoubilai (FR) 16-1 (11-9) Prominent, led when not fluent 2 out, headed approaching last, stayed on same pace, lost 3rd close home, 4th of 13, 4 1/2l behind Wings Of Smoke (11-9) at Newbury 2m 2f cond hcp chs (4yo+) (3) gs in Nov.
Valley View (IRE) 9-2 (11-4) In rear, jumped left 5th, headway 12th, every chance before last, weakened run-in, 4th of 9, 17l behind Harouet (11-3) at Carlisle 3m 2f hcp chs 0-135 (3) hvy in Nov.
French Ties (IRE) 9-1 (11-12) Held up in rear, took keen hold, headway approaching 3 out, soon went 3rd, stayed on same pace last, 3rd of 10, 5l behind Amuse Me (11-4) at Wetherby 2m 4f hcp hdl 0-115 (4) gs in May.
Upthemsteps (IRE) 5-1 (11-12) Tracked leaders, driven and outpaced after 3 out, kept on same pace from next, no impression, 4th of 7, 11l behind Merry King (11-12) at Bangor 2m 4f hcp chs 0-120 (4) gs in Nov.
Plein Pouvoir (FR) 10-3 (11-11) Tracked winner, led approaching 3rd, clear approaching 14th, blundered 17th, reduced lead before last, no extra and headed final 150 yards, 2nd of 5, 1 1/4l behind Goring One (10-8) at Wincanton 3m 1f hcp chs 0-120 (4) sft.
Lexicon Lad (IRE) 5-2fav (11-1) In touch, mistake 9th, hampered 11th, 4th and outpaced before 3 out, kept on to take 3rd before last, no chance with front pair, 3rd of 6, 19l behind Pasco (11-9) at Aintree 2m 4f hcp chs 0-135 (3) gd in Oct.
Sound Stage 16-1 (10-10) Mid-division, pushed along in 5th from 4 out, no chance with leading quartett, lost 5th close home, 6th of 12, 16l behind Time For Spring (11-9) at Sandown 3m hcp chs 0-125 (3) gs in Nov.
The Big Freeze (IRE) 11-4fav (11-12) Tracked leaders, led 13th, strongly challenged when not fluent 2 out, soon hard ridden, headed close home, rallied to lead again post, won at Exeter 3m nov hcp chs 0-105 (4) hvy beating Musical Wedge (11-8) by ns, 8 ran.
Bene Lad (IRE) 6-1 (9-11) Held up, went 4th 3rd, challenged 3 out, mistake and unseated rider 2 out, in a race won by Prosecco (10-0) at Ayr 2m hcp chs 0-135 (3) sft in Nov, 8 ran.
Rebeccas Choice (IRE) 33-1 (11-2) Held up in rear, behind 8th, never in contention, 5th of 11, 23l behind Howard's Legacy (11-2) at Ffos Las 2m 3f beg chs (3) sft in Nov.
Red Rouble (IRE) 7-2fav (11-10) Held up behind leaders, mistake 1st, hit 12th, headway approahing 3 out, went 2nd when jumped left last, driven flat, led towards finish, won at Leicester 2m 7f hcp chs 0-105 (4) gd in Nov beating Nom de Guerre (11-12) by 3/4l, 8 ran.