Philip Hobbs has his team in good form coming into the festival and Menorah is no exception having not been out of the first two home in any of his four starts over hurdles for the stable since his debut success in a bumper in Ireland and earning a rating of 147 but he faces no easy task against DUNGUIB, who can get backers off to a good start with the main danger rated as Get Me Out Of Here. Jonjo O'Neill's gelding remains unbeaten after five starts and was most impressive when beating 22 rivals in the Grade 3 Totesport Trophy Hurdle at Newbury last month off a mark of 135. We may not have seen the best of the six-year-old yet and he has to be respected but will need to improve again to get the better of the selection. Nicky Henderson's Oscar Whisky has similarly yet to taste defeat in his four starts and he too has to be considered but may not be as effective on the better ground today than the heavy ground that he handled really well at Sandown last time. Dan Breen was well held on his only start in a bumper in Ireland but has run better since joining David Pipe's stable, winning all three starts but this is a lot tougher than the races that he has contested so far. Willie Mullins had a marvellous Festival 12 months ago and is represented in the opener by Flat Out and Blackstairmountain with the latter having shown improved form of late with wins at Galway and Punchestown but this is likely to go to another Irish challenger in Dunguib. Philip Fenton's gelding won the Champion Bumper last season in impressive fashion by 10 lengths before further success in that sphere at the Punchestown Festival. He has done nothing wrong since being put over hurdles this term winning all four starts, including Grade 1 races in his last two outings, and can make it five on the bounce over timber today.
Blackstairmountain (IRE) 2-1 (11-12) Soon chased leaders, 5th halfway, headway in 4th entering straight, travelled well to lead before last, pushed out run-in, easily, won at Punchestown 2m 5yo mdn hdl hvy in Jan beating Recital Public (11-12) by 5l, 17 ran.
Chain Of Command (IRE) 10-3 (11-8) Raced keenly, tracked leaders, driven and outpaced after 3 out, disputing 3rd and weakening when mistake next, 8th of 12, 33l behind Swansbrook (11-2) at Ascot 2m 3f NH nov hdl (4-7yo) (3) sft in Jan.
Cootehill (IRE) 20-1 (11-8) Led until just after 3 out, soon weakened, 5th of 8, 42l behind Menorah (11-5) at Kempton 2m nh nov hdl (2) gs in Dec.
Dan Breen (IRE) 9-2 (11-3) Tracked leaders, led 3 out, clear last, extended advantage flat, easily, won at Doncaster 2m nh nov hdl (4) gs in Feb beating Tanto Faz (11-3) by 9l, 15 ran.
Dunguib (IRE) 3-10fav (11-10) Held up in rear, not fluent at times, 6th 2 out, closed on outer entering straight, went 2nd before last, led on bridle inside final furlong, kept on well, not extended, impressive, won at Leopardstown 2m 2f nov hdl G2 hvy in Feb beating Fionnegas (11-10) by 2 1/2l, 7 ran.
Far Away So Close (IRE) 10-1 (11-4) Keen early, settled 5th, effort on inner 3 out, no impression from next, 5th of 6, 15l behind Coole River (11-10) at Navan 2m nov hdl G2 hvy in Feb.
Fiulin 20-1 (11-5) Took keen hold early, soon settled in touch, hit 2 out, weakened soon after, last of 7, well behind Restless Harry (11-12) at Cheltenham 2m 4f nov hdl G2 (1) sft in Jan.
Flat Out (FR) 11-10fav (11-8) Soon led, mistakes from 4 out to 2 out, travelling best from before straight, went clear from before last, stayed on strongly, impressive, won at Punchestown 2m mdn hdl sft in Feb beating Better Times (11-12) by 7l, 22 ran.
General Miller 3-1 (11-12) Held up in rear, in touch, smooth headway going well 2 out, chased winner well before last, ridden approaching last, no extra flat, 2nd of 7, 8l behind Restless Harry (11-12) at Cheltenham 2m 4f nov hdl G2 (1) sft in Jan.
Get Me Out Of Here (IRE) 6-1 (10-6) Held up in mid-division, smooth headway and switched left after 3 out, chased leader soon after 2 out, challenged and mistake last, quickened to lead final 150 yards, won at Newbury 2m hcp hdl Grade 3 (1) gs in Feb beating Ronaldo Des Mottes (10-13) by 1 3/4l, 23 ran.
Hollins 15-8 (11-9) Prominent, ridden approaching last, one pace, 3rd of 13, 10l behind Bishops Heir (11-4) at Kelso 2m nh nov hdl (4) sft in Feb.
Menorah (IRE) 1-2fav (11-12) Led to 5th, tracked leaders, led again 4 out, driven 2 lengths clear when mistake last, ridden and headed flat, no extra, 2nd of 9, 1 3/4l behind Lush Life (11-2) at Ascot 2m nov hdl (3) gs in Feb.
Mister Wall Street (FR) 2-1 (11-2) Held up in touch, chased winner approaching 2 out, no impression when lost 2nd and not fluent last, no extra, 3rd of 11, 9l behind Empty Sky (11-9) at Catterick 2m nov hdl (4) gs in Feb.
Oscar Whisky (IRE) 4-11fav (11-8) Tracked leading trio, closed to track leading pair before 3 out, challenged on bit 2 out, led when hit last, not extended flat, won at Sandown 2m nh nov hdl (3) hvy in Feb beating Cois Farraig (11-2) by 2l, 11 ran.
Spring Jim 11-2 (11-5) Held up, headway 5th, one pace 2 out, 5th of 11, 11l behind La Sarrazine (10-5) at Doncaster 2m nov hdl (4) gs in Jan.
Takestan (IRE) 20-1 (11-8) Held up in rear, progress 4 out, 7th next, close 5th 2 out, soon no extra, 5th of 10, 15l behind Whodoyouthink (11-8) at Naas 2m nh nov hdl sft.
Vino Griego (FR) 7-2 (11-6) Tracked leaders, ridden to lead approaching 2 out, just headed when fell last, in a race won by Escort'men (10-7) at Kempton 2m nov hdl G2 (1) sft in Feb, 9 ran.
Dream Esteem 4-1 (11-5) Held mid-division, headway approaching 3 out, soon chasing winner, one pace, 2nd of 12, 3 1/2l behind Banjaxed Girl (10-12) at Southwell 2m mrs nov hdl (4) sft in Feb.