Wishfull Thinking won this in 2011 but has 9lb more to carry this year. OUR MICK had every chance in the race 12 months ago when he was hampered and unseated his rider three out and is 5lb lower now. Donald McCain's charge could be interesting today in first-time blinkers and gets a tentative vote. Venetia Williams, successful last year, saddles both Renard and Shangani this time. The latter looks better treated while this could well be the day that Cedre Bleu decides to put his head back in front as he's 6lb better off than when beaten four-and-a-half lengths by the hat-trick-seeking Double Ross here on New Year's Day - third Kumbeshwar looks held. Tap Night, Ulck Du Lin and Sew On Target have all been disappointing this season.
Wishfull Thinking 9-1 (11-10) Held up in touch on outside, closed 4th, led 13th, headed approaching last, one pace and no impression flat, 2nd of 6, 7l behind Unioniste (11-6) at Aintree 3m 1f lst chs (1) gs in Dec.
Double Ross (IRE) 11-8fav (11-5) Mistake 1st, chased leaders, challenged after 10th, soon led, driven and stayed on gamely flat, won at Cheltenham 2m 5f hcp chs G3 (1) sft beating Cedre Bleu (11-6) by 4 1/2l, 7 ran.
Renard (FR) 4-1fav (11-7) Took keen hold tracking leading pair, went 2nd 8th, pushed along and outpaced in 4th before 2 out, 4th of 7, 16l behind Bury Parade (11-6) at Ascot 2m 5f hcp chs (2) hvy.
Cedre Bleu (FR) 9-2 (11-6) Tracking leaders 2nd, steadied after next, mistake 9th, headway after next, went 2nd last, ridden and no impresssion on winner flat, stayed on same pace, 2nd of 7, 4 1/2l behind Double Ross (11-5) at Cheltenham 2m 5f hcp chs G3 (1) sft.
Kumbeshwar 12-1 (11-10) Pressed leader, stumbled and reminder 8th, driven 10th, 3rd and one pace after last, no extra final 100 yards, 3rd of 7, 16l behind Double Ross (11-5) at Cheltenham 2m 5f hcp chs G3 (1) sft.
Tap Night (USA) 20-1 (11-6) Always towards rear, 8th of 13, 39l behind Double Ross (10-8) at Cheltenham 2m 5f Grade 3 hcp chs (4yo+) (1) gd in Dec.
Our Mick 14-1 (11-0) Led, hit 4th and 9th, not fluent 11th, mistake 12th, headed next, outpaced before 4 out, well held after, went 3rd before last, 3rd of 6, 25l behind Unioniste (11-6) at Aintree 3m 1f lst chs (1) gs in Dec.
Ulck Du Lin (FR) 13-2 (11-12) Held up towards rear, headway approaching 8th, chasing leaders next, ridden before 2 out, weakened 2 out, lost modest 4th final strides, 5th of 10, 15l behind Lancetto (11-7) at Ascot 2m 1f hcp chs 0-140 (3) sft in Dec.
Shangani (USA) 8-1 (11-12) Held up towards rear, not fluent 5th, not fluent and reminder 9th, headway after 9th to chase leaders next, went 2nd and challenged 4 out, not fluent and lost 2nd 3 out, chased winner until between last 2, stayed on same pace, 3rd of 9, 13l behind King Edmund (11-12) at Kempton 2m 4f hcp chs 0-135 (3) sft.
Sew On Target (IRE) 5-1 (11-7) Led until 4th, led 7th, headed 4 out, weakened well before 2 out, tailed off, 6th of 9, 40l behind Dare Me (11-4) at Warwick 2m hcp chs 0-135 (3) hvy.