A Listed contest of some stature in which the highly progressive Themilanhorse is sure to be popular for the Nicholls and Walsh team - and quite rightly as he looks likely to have further scope for improvement. Lovcen has strong claims at his best too and should be involved despite topweight, whilst check out any support for the talented Bouggler on his return from a lengthy absence. However, it may be worth taking a chance with MONETARY FUND here despite his being a couple of pounds out of the handicap. He continues to deliver a good account, comes here in good nick after a battling Musselburgh win, and the Venetia Williams yard could hardly be in better form. Anything trained by David Pipe at this three-day meeting needs to be taken into consideration, so keep an eye on the unexposed Goulanes, winner of his only start over hurdles at Newbury back in the spring. He could be anything.
Lovcen (GER) 9-4fav (11-12) Held up in rear, not fluent 4th, headway after 4 out, one pace from 2 out, no extra flat, 5th of 10, 8l behind Ely Brown (9-10) at Aintree 3m hcp hdl (2) sft in Oct.
Bouggler 25-1 (11-4) Raced wide, pressed leader to 4th, chased leaders, driven and lost place 8th (water), soon behind, tailed off 3 out, 9th of 11, well behind Noble Prince (11-4) at Cheltenham 2m 4f nov chs G2 (1) gd in Mar '11.
Stonemaster (IRE) 14-1 (11-3) Led or disputed lead, strongly pressed 2 out and headed last, no extra and dropped to 3rd run-in, 3rd of 11, 2 3/4l behind Back In A Tic (10-7) at Naas 2m 4f hcp hdl sft in Oct.
Themilanhorse (IRE) 9-2fav (10-8) Held up towards rear, headway approaching 3 out, went 2nd last, stayed on, unable to trouble winner, 2nd of 17, 1 1/4l behind Native Gallery (11-1) at Aintree 2m 4f hcp hdl (2) gd in May.
Cross Kennon (IRE) 33-1 (11-12) Tracked leaders on outside, ridden 7th, weakened next, tailed off, 17th of 20, well behind Action Master (10-6) at Cheltenham 3m hcp hdl (2) gs in Oct.
Ogee 33-1 (11-1) Tracked leaders, lost place and hampered after 9th, soon outpaced, hit 3 out, rallied after 2 out, weakened flat, 8th of 20, 17l behind Action Master (10-6) at Cheltenham 3m hcp hdl (2) gs in Oct.
Kayf Aramis 6-1 (11-8) Led until 2nd, led 6th, not fluent and headed 7th, ridden after 3 out, weakened from next, pulled up before last, in a race won by Michel Le Bon (11-3) at Cheltenham 3m hcp hdl 0-145 (2) sft in Apr, 9 ran.
Star Neuville (FR) 6-1 (10-11) Tracked leaders in 3rd, ridden early straight and dropped to 5th approaching last, no extra, 5th of 11, 15l behind Back In A Tic (10-7) at Naas 2m 4f hcp hdl sft in Oct.
Buachaill Alainn (IRE) 9-2 (10-3) Mid-division, headway approaching 4 out, outpaced next, rallied last, stayed on well, just failed, 2nd of 10, hd behind Ely Brown (9-10) at Aintree 3m hcp hdl (2) sft in Oct.
El Dancer (GER) 10-1 (11-5) Close up, chased leader between last two, ridden and every chance last, joined leader flat when rider dropped rein, driven to lead post, won at Fakenham 2m 7f hcp hdl 0-130 (3) gs in Oct beating Wayward Glance (11-3) by ns, 8 ran.
Goulanes (IRE) 20-1 (11-1) Held up in touch, closed 3 out, led flat, soon headed, kept on under pressure to lead again close home, won at Newbury 2m 5f mdn hdl (3) gs in Mar beating Seven Woods (11-1) by nk, 12 ran.
Abnaki (IRE) 11-1 (9-8) Mid-division, outpaced 4 out, rallied on outside before 3 out, soon challenging winner, every chance when carried right flat, no extra towards finish, 4th of 10, 5l behind Ely Brown (9-10) at Aintree 3m hcp hdl (2) sft in Oct.
Benbane Head (USA) 11-2 (11-11) Raced wide, chased leaders, not fluent 7th, ridden and outpaced 3 out, rallied and hit 2 out, ridden to lead approaching last, just held on, all out, won at Towcester 2m 5f hcp hdl 0-120 (4) gs beating Tell Me Y (11-6) by shd, 10 ran.
Monetary Fund (USA) 7-2 (11-8) Held up mid-division, headway after 4 out, led before 2 out, strongly pressed run-in, kept on gamely, just held on, won at Musselburgh 3m hcp hdl 0-125 (3) gd beating Jeu De Roseau (11-10) by nk, 9 ran.