This race is still in its infancy and it's difficult to weigh up the respective claims of several progressive youngsters, but NOTUS DE LA TOUR created a very favourable impression when making a successful debut in England and might be good enough to score from Sanctuaire and Son Amix. David Pipe's gelding won a couple of races in France before joining the yard and he got off to the perfect start for new connections, scoring in tidy fashion from Ranjobaie. That horse placed off 129 at the weekend in a fiercely competitive race at Sandown, so off just 134 the Pipe runner would look to be very nicely treated as he was comfortably too good when the pair met. The concern then isn't that he's not well handicapped, it's that there could be something lurking that has been given an even more lenient rating. One such runner could be Sanctuaire for Paul Nicholls, a horse bought with this race in mind. He did all that could've been expected when winning at Taunton and looks to have been given a reasonable mark, but we're narrowly against with the ground much livelier here. Son Amix is an intruiging Irish raider for Thomas Cooper having won well when last seen but again the question mark is the ground which will be the fastest he's encountered. Connections pick their targets carefully however and one must assume they're confident he'll act on today's going. Open Day saddles top weight here and may just have revealed too much to the handicapper in winning at Market Rasen and Sandown, although he's shown himself versatile ground wise and must be given an each way chance. That one holds Star Du Granits on a line through Fin Vin De Leu, so this pair can be omitted from calculations along with Diktalina, an admirable filly who may just be a few pounds high in the weights. Cross Appeal makes more appeal at a price than Bothy despite the fact Brian Ellison's runner is unbeaten so far, with the former having run a smart sort close last time out and conditions will suit. Doctor Deejay is another Irish runner with claims for a top yard whilst Hunterview can't be discounted as he was good enough on the level to merit attention off this mark if jumping better. In a race where collateral form is thin on the ground and most are hard to assess, our vote goes the way of Notus De La Tour.
Stars Du Granits (FR) 2-1 (11-3) Raced keen and led after 1st, fell next, in a race won by Me Voici (11-6) at Haydock 2m 4yo nov hdl (2) sft in Feb, 7 ran.
Open Day (IRE) 4-1fav (11-4) Held up towards rear, steady headway on outside before 2 out, switched left before last, led last, stayed on well flat, won at Sandown 2m 4yo nov hdl (3) hvy in Feb beating Fin Vin De Leu (10-12) by 4l, 10 ran.
Baccalaureate (FR) 8-1 (11-8) Held up, effort to chase leaders 3 out, soon ridden, outpaced, no impression from next, 5th of 7, 20l behind Carlito Brigante (11-8) at Musselburgh 2m 4yo nov hdl (2) gs in Feb.
Notus De La Tour (FR) 7-2 (10-11) Chased leaders, led 3 out, kept on well from last, won at Plumpton 2m nh nov hdl (4) sft in Jan beating Ranjobaie (11-5) by 6l, 11 ran.
Son Amix (FR) 5-2fav (11-0) Tracked leaders, 3rd from before halfway, close 2nd travelling best 4 out, led approaching next, clear from 2 out, stayed on strongly, won at Navan 2m Juvenile Maiden Hurdle (4yo) hvy in Feb beating Firm Foundations (11-2) by 28l, 13 ran.
Causeway King (USA) 7-2 (11-5) Held up in touch, chased winner 6th, not quicken approaching 2 out, closed and 2 lenghts down when mistake last, no impression after, kept on towards finish, 2nd of 6, 2l behind Orzare (11-5) at Fontwell 2m 2f 4yo nov hdl (4) sft in Feb.
Fin Vin de Leu (GER) 4-6fav (10-12) Chased leaders, went 2nd before 3rd, led approaching 2 out, clear when not fluent last, ran on well, won at Warwick 2m 4yo nov hdl (4) hvy in Feb beating Highway Code (10-12) by 15l, 8 ran.
Diktalina 11-2 (10-13) Held up in rear, hampered 2nd, headway approaching 3 out, chased winner approaching 2 out, no impression, 2nd of 7, 9l behind Me Voici (11-6) at Haydock 2m 4yo nov hdl (2) sft in Feb.
Cross Appeal (IRE) 5-2 (11-0) Tracked leader in 2nd, led from 2 out, soon ridden, headed before last, kept on same pace run-in, 2nd of 6, 2 1/2l behind Pittoni (11-0) at Leopardstown 2m Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 1) (4yo) hvy in Feb.
Bothy 2-1fav (10-13) Close up, effort on outside 2 out, soon ridden, led before last, stayed on strongly (no time taken), won at Taunton 2m 1f nov hcp hdl 0-125 (3) sft in Feb beating Beyond Moonbeams (10-4) by 4l, 10 ran.
Sanctuaire (FR) 5-6fav (10-7) Held up in rear, good headway before 6th, chased leaders next, led just before 2 out, stayed on strongly, won at Taunton 2m 1f nov hdl (4) sft in Feb beating Grands Crus (11-9) by 4l, 13 ran.
Doctor Deejay (IRE) 11-4 (10-10) Chased leader, led after 2nd, headed 4 out, close up from 2 out, soon disputed, ridden in 2nd and no extra run-in, kept on same pace, 2nd of 5, 1 3/4l behind Pittoni (10-10) at Punchestown 2m Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 3) (4yo) hvy in Jan.
Ned Of The Hill (IRE) 11-2 (10-6) Chased leaders, 5th halfway, ridden in 4th entering straight, 3rd 2 out, stayed on to lead last, kept on well run-in, won at Fairyhouse 2m mdn hdl sft in Feb beating Colleoni (11-2) by 4l, 16 ran.
Prince Pippin (IRE) 16-1 (11-1) Soon chased leader, led briefly 3 out, chased winner after, hit 2 out, no impression before last, lost 2nd final 110 yards, 3rd of 8, 10l behind Diktalina (10-7) at Sandown 2m 4yo nov hdl (3) sft in Feb.
Bocamix (FR) 11-1 (11-3) Held up in rear, soon in touch, ridden after 3 out, kept on and no impression, just held for 3rd, 4th of 7, 17l behind Me Voici (11-6) at Haydock 2m 4yo nov hdl (2) sft in Feb.
Orsippus (USA) 5-1 (10-12) Held up toward rear, headway to chase leaders approaching 3 out, went 2nd approaching last, kept on towards finish, 2nd of 14, 3/4l behind Gilded Age (10-12) at Doncaster 2m 4yo nov hdl (4) sft in Feb.
Hunterview 7-2 (10-11) Mid-division, headway 4th, went 2nd after 3 out, disputed lead from 2 out, took lead towards finish, won at Warwick 2m Juvenile Maiden Hurdle (4yo) (4) sft in Jan beating Riskareas (11-0) by nk, 11 ran.
Shanrod (IRE) 8-1 (11-0) Held up towards rear, headway in 4th entering straight, ridden 2 out, no impression in 3rd before last, kept on same pace, 3rd of 8, 21l behind Alaivan (11-0) at Fairyhouse 2m Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 2) (4yo) sft in Feb.
Theologist (IRE) 33-1 (10-12) Soon pressed leader, narrow lead after, 3 out, kept advantage until mistake and headed last, kept on same pace and no chance with winner flat, 3rd of 10, 4 1/2l behind Open Day (11-4) at Sandown 2m 4yo nov hdl (3) hvy in Feb.
Kudu Country (IRE) 5-1 (11-0) Chased leaders, mistake 2nd, headed approaching 4th, headed soon after 3 out, weakened next, 4th of 8, 23l behind Me Voici (11-0) at Chepstow 2m 3yo hdl Grd 1 (1) hvy in Dec.
Loch Long (IRE) 25-1 (11-0) Chased leader in close 2nd, improved to challenge 3 out, led entering straight, ridden and challenged 2 out, soon headed, no extra in 2nd before last, kept on same pace, 2nd of 8, 17l behind Alaivan (11-0) at Fairyhouse 2m Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 2) (4yo) sft in Feb.
Stormy Weather (FR) 5-2 (10-12) Held up in touch, headway to challenge 3 out, shaken up to lead last, ridden and kept on flat, won at Newcastle 2m 4yo nov hdl (4) hvy in Jan beating Bocamix (11-0) by 2 1/4l, 11 ran.
George Nympton (IRE) 3-1 (11-0) Chased leading pair, going well enough when mistake 2 out, no impression on front pair from last and lost 3rd near finish, 4th of 7, 8l behind Baccalaureate (11-0) at Cheltenham 2m 1f 4yo nov hdl G2 (1) sft in Jan.
Riptide 20-1 (11-0) Chased leader to approaching 4 out, soon ridden and weakened next, 5th of 8, 32l behind Me Voici (11-0) at Chepstow 2m 3yo hdl Grd 1 (1) hvy in Dec.