BALTHAZAR KING won a competitive handicap, for the second year running, over the regulation fences here last month and is favoured by the weights in this. The cross-country obstacles will hold no fears for Philip Hobbs' charge as he won the big race on the inside course at The Festival in 2012 and also landed a big race over unconventional fences in France in September. Uncle Junior has won this for the last two years but appeared to lose plot in the second half of last season. Chicago Grey won a Grade 2 at Navan in February and is a classy stayer on his day but how he'll take to these fences is anybody's guess. Gullible Gordon and Diamond Harry are also best watched while Sire Collonges and Any Currency probably have a bit to find at the weights. Enda Bolger used to farm these events but Zest For Life and Quiscover Fontaine look up against it on today's terms.
Balthazar King (IRE) 7-2fav (11-6) Made all, clear 2 out, stayed on well, won at Cheltenham 3m hcp chs (2) gd in Oct beating Tour Des Champs (11-0) by 7l, 16 ran.
Chicago Grey (IRE) 33-1 (11-10) Always towards rear, reminders 10th, ridden and no extra 4 out, weakened before next and pulled up before 2 out, in a race won by Sir Des Champs (11-10) at Punchestown 3m 1f chs G1 (1) sft in Apr, 8 ran.
Sire Collonges (FR) 10-1 (11-7) Prominent, ridden and lost place before 3 out, 9th of 16, 46l behind Balthazar King (11-6) at Cheltenham 3m hcp chs (2) gd in Oct.
Uncle Junior (IRE) 9-2 (12-7) Waited with, no danger 19th, pulled up before 2 out, reportedly burst blood vessel, in a race won by Sizing Australia (11-12) at Punchestown 3m crs cntry chs (5yo+) hvy in Apr, 15 ran.
Any Currency (IRE) 14-1 (11-6) Ran in snatches, chased leaders, went 2nd 4th until next, reminders 11th, pushed along and struggling 14th (water), left in modest 5th before 2 out, 5th of 12, 35l behind Standing Ovation (10-0) at Wincanton 3m 3f hcp chs 0-140 (3) gd in Oct.
Gullible Gordon (IRE) 15-2 (11-2) Tracked winner, lost place 14th, ridden and behind after 5 out, last of 9, well behind Pantxoa (10-6) at Ffos Las 3m 1f hcp chs (2) gd in Aug.
Theroadtocroker (IRE) 50-1 (11-1) Held up towards rear, last 5 out, no impression next, weakened 3 out, 5th of 6, 33l behind Double Seven (11-5) at Wexford 2m 6f lst chs (1) sft in Oct.
Zest For Life (IRE) (10-9) in a race won by Orphee Des Blins (10-5) at Pardubice(CZE) 4m 2f in Oct, 20 ran.
Viking Blond (FR) 8-1 (11-1) Led until not fluent 2nd, led again 5th, headed after 9th, weakened before last, 14th of 20, 28l behind Trackmate (11-4) at Cheltenham 3m hcp hdl (2) gd in Oct.
Diamond Harry (10-3) 3rd of 8, 6l behind Yanky Sundown (10-10) at Lyon-Parilly(FR) 3m 2f gs in Jun.
Quiscover Fontaine (FR) 5-4 (12-2) Tr ldrs in mod 3rd, left 2nd last, 2nd of 5, 20l behind Near Perfection (12-2) at Lemonfield 3m ire ptp sft in Oct.