A real top-drawer race with plenty of Festival clues to be gleaned and LIE FORRIT looks capable of taking it en route to a crack at Big Buck's in the World Hurdle, while Mr Thriller, Katchit and Time For Rupert are others with claims. The William Amos-trained pick has made his name in handicaps, including a Listed success here on soft ground in November. Given a break since his most recent run at Newbury's Hennessy meeting, he comes here fresh and is the subject of good reports from his trainer. He goes well after an absence and stays at least as far as this, and if he is to have any hope come March then he needs to prove himself at this level today. Mr Thriller has been beaten on both starts here, though he acts well with cut in the ground. Very much a classy sort, he is stepped up in trip here and given that unexposed profile is far from ruled out. Former Champion Hurdle winner Katchit was far from disgraced behind Sentry Duty here last time and acts in conditions. He too has to convince us that he will get this far, but he likes it here and the yard have really come back to form so he has possibilities. Time For Rupert has a good strike rate and the assessor put him up 6lbs for scoring at Chepstow, giving him each-way claims at the weights, while Golan Way and Bouggler should not be far apart as was the case at Wincanton on Boxing Day. Old boy Lough Derg would probably want good to soft ground to have his best chance over this trip, given that his optimum is 2m 4f, but he is a gutsy sort who could go well, though Lie Forrit gets the vote.
Fair Along (GER) 28-1 (11-7) Chased leader, left in lead 4th, hit 5th, ridden and headed after 2 out, soon weakened, 5th of 8, 27l behind Big Buck's (11-7) at Newbury 3m hdl G1 (1) hvy in Dec.
Lough Derg (FR) 12-1 (11-10) Led, ridden after 3 out, headed next, kept on flat, 3rd of 17, 4l behind Mamlook (10-1) at Ascot 2m 3f Ltd hcp hdl (1) sft.
Bouggler 6-1 (11-1) Chased leaders, blundered badly 5th, headway to chase winner before 2 out, about 2 lengths down when ridden and hung right before last, continued to edge right and kept on same pace run-in, 2nd of 9, 1 1/2l behind Golan Way (10-13) at Wincanton 2m 6f hcp hdl (2) sft in Dec.
Golan Way 9-2 (10-13) Made virtually all, about 2 lengths clear when hit last, stayed on strongly run-in, won at Wincanton 2m 6f hcp hdl (2) sft in Dec beating Bouggler (11-1) by 1 1/2l, 9 ran.
Kayf Aramis 66-1 (11-7) Chased leaders in 3rd, left 2nd at 4th, outpaced 3 out, struggling after, tailed off, 4th of 8, 26l behind Big Buck's (11-7) at Newbury 3m hdl G1 (1) hvy in Dec.
Lie Forrit (IRE) 11-4fav (11-8) Held up towards rear, steady headway from 9th, went 2nd 2 out, led and blundered last, soon ridden clear, idle towards finish, eased close home, won at Newbury 3m hcp hdl 0-140 (2) gs in Nov beating Mith Hill (9-6) by 1l, 18 ran.
Mr Thriller (FR) 4-7fav (11-8) With leader, led when not fluent 5th, ridden after 3 out, headed after 2 out, relegated to 3rd and beaten last, last of 3, 8l behind Sentry Duty (11-8) at Cheltenham 2m 4f hdl (2) sft.
Time For Rupert (IRE) 16-1 (11-7) Chased leaders, under pressure 2 out, stayed on after and soon challenging, led last, stayed on well, driven out, won at Cheltenham 3m hcp hdl 0-155 (2) sft in Dec beating Made In Japan (9-11) by 1 3/4l, 15 ran.
Chief Dan George (IRE) 10-1 (10-11) Mid-division, outpaced 4 out, never on terms, 7th of 14, 13l behind Beat The Boys (10-12) at Newcastle 3m listed hcp chs (1) gs in Nov.
Katchit (IRE) 11-4 (11-4) Narrow leader to 5th, remained pressing, led after 2 out, ridden approaching last, headed towards finish, no chance with winner, 2nd of 3, 2 3/4l behind Sentry Duty (11-8) at Cheltenham 2m 4f hdl (2) sft.
Kennel Hill (IRE) 13-8fav (11-2) Chased leaders, led 4th, reluctant, not resolute and headed 2 out, gave up completely, 2nd of 12, 8l behind The Minack (11-8) at Kempton 2m 5f nh nov hdl (3) sft.
Tatenen (FR) 12-1 (11-8) Held up, headway under pressure when mistake 3 out, no danger after, 6th of 12, 19l behind Can't Buy Time (11-0) at Cheltenham 2m 5f hcp chs G3 (1) sft.
Tidal Bay (IRE) 15-8fav (11-0) Tracked leaders, in 2nd from 6th, blundered badly 7th, soon lost place, headway after 3 out, one pace, 4th of 7, 11l behind Deep Purple (11-10) at Huntingdon 2m 4f Grade 2 chs (4yo+) (1) gs in Dec.