With no appearance from Denman the big race on the card can go to CARRUTHERS, while Inchidaly Rock and Madison Du Berlais are respected. The last-named is best off at the weights here and top-rated, largely courtesy of two defeats of the said Denman last season. However, for whatever reason he does not appear to act as well here as at other tracks, and while he stays well and acts on the ground, you can probably knock 7lbs or so off his official rating here, which brings others into it. One of those has to be mudlark Inchidaly Rock. Ruby Walsh prefers him to stablemate Taranis, and given the yard's record in the big Saturday races he has to be respected in spite of needing to find a fair bit at the weights. He is likely to be heavily involved but might not quite have the class of Carruthers. Mark Bradstock's exciting front-runner relishes cut in the ground and trounced Nicholls' inmate Big Fella Thanks in the Mandarin at Newbury last time. He jumps very well and is worth his current mark of 155, though he does still have to prove it at this track. Previous winner Knowhere is one to look out for at a price, as he loves it here and is preferred by Paddy Brennan to Charlie Hall specialist Ollie Magern, but we'll side with Carruthers.
Joe Lively (IRE) 20-1 (11-12) Led to 1st, prominent, weakened 16th, soon in rear, tailed off, 10th of 12, well behind The Package (10-0) at Cheltenham 3m 1f listed hcp chs (1) sft in Dec.
Madison Du Berlais (FR) 10-1 (11-10) Tracked leaders, under pressure 7th, soon outpaced, headway 3 out, stayed on to chase winner but never a threat, 2nd of 13, 37l behind Kauto Star (11-10) at Kempton 3m Grade 1 chs (4yo+) (1) gs in Dec.
Carruthers 5-4fav (11-7) Led to 3rd, chased leader, led 7th, pecked 10th, headed 11th, stayed challenging, led again and hit 4 out, came clear from 2 out, kept on strongly, won at Newbury 3m grad ch (2) hvy in Dec beating Big Fella Thanks (11-7) by 23l, 5 ran.
Knowhere (IRE) 17-2 (11-10) Mid-division, reminders 13th, moderate 3rd 2 out, weakened and blundered last, 4th of 7, 17l behind Sherwoods Folly (10-2) at Cheltenham 3m 2f hcp chs 0-145 (2) sft.
Inchidaly Rock (IRE) Evensfav (11-6) Hit 1st, led to 2nd, tracked leader, until blundered 4th, handy, chased leader again 16th, hanging left but led approaching 2 out, soon in command, continued to edge left, driven right out, won at Cheltenham 3m 1f nov chs (2) sft in Dec beating Hey Big Spender (11-6) by 9l, 6 ran.
Ollie Magern 100-1 (11-10) Prominent, pushed along 12th, soon weakened, 9th of 13, well behind Kauto Star (11-10) at Kempton 3m Grade 1 chs (4yo+) (1) gs in Dec.
Taranis (FR) 20-1 (11-10) Chased leaders, ridden after 11th, losing ground when pulled up before next, in a race won by Kauto Star (11-10) at Kempton 3m chs (1) gs in Dec '07, 7 ran.