This is competitive to say the least but one who has the potential to be way ahead of this mark is RIVER D'OR so he's given a speculative vote from Cheshire Prince and Calusa Crystal. Paul Nicholls' gelding was sent straight in to Grade One novice company on his first start for connections and travelled well to a point before tiring. That was his first run for six months and the quagmire-like conditions wouldn't have been ideal, so whilst guesswork is involved to assess his ability our feeling is that he hasn't been bought for nothing and a rating of 122 may in time prove extremely generous. This type of big-field handicap isn't usually the sort of race in which we'd be looking to side with novices who may lack the experience required, but Cheshire Prince is another who catches the eye off a mark of 124. He's won two novice hurdles and the form of his latest victory might prove to be very strong, so whilst this asks a big question he's not been overly burdened with weight and can find some answers. Calusa Crystal reverts back to hurdling having impressed over fences and we know she stays this far, so with the yard returning to form the mare is preferred to Sonowyouknow of the rest. Jonjo O'Neill's inmate ran into a good one last time and may prove to be fairly treated but he might even at this stage need a couple of extra furlongs to be seen at his best. Alan King saddles three and Silk Hall might just prove the pick of them having shown some smart form last year, whilst he's been kept busy on the flat and will surely show himself in a better light than when last seen over hurdles. That said, Saticon is also a big player for the yard and on jockey bookings might be the better fancied. He was staying on for a place at least in a race that was voided last time so this mark looks fair and the extra couple of furlongs will suit. Good Old Thyme looked for all money the winner last time before finding little. He's won over further and is consistent enough to merit respect but the last two handicaps he's contested haven't been this tough and he's been beaten in them off lower marks. Divers would've been beaten comfortably by Saticon last time had the race been completed so he'll need to improve, Stoop To Conquer might be undone by his rise in the ratings and Star De Mohaison has left Paul Nicholl's since we last saw him and has questions to answer. Any one of several could win this but River D'Or has the potential to be a blot on the handicap.
Silk Hall (UAE) 12-1 (11-10) Held up mid-division, pushed along after 5th, ridden and weakened approaching next, 11th of 12, well behind Fairyland (10-8) at Newbury 2m listed hcp hdl 0-145 (1) gs in Nov.
Saticon 8-1 (10-12) Led, raced keenly, headed when hit 2 out, weakened approaching last, last of 5, 23l behind Starluck (10-12) at Cheltenham 2m 4yo hdl (2) gf in Oct.
Character Building (IRE) 16-1 (11-12) Held up in rear, headway approaching 16th, tracking leaders going well from 3 out, challenged before last, led flat, edged right, pushed out, won at Cheltenham 3m 1f Am hcp chs 0-140 (2) gs in Mar beating Pretty Star (10-13) by 1l, 24 ran.
Star De Mohaison (FR) 12-1 (11-12) Mid-division, weakened from 12th, in a race won by Don't Push It (10-11) at Aintree 3m 1f hcp chs (2) gs in Apr, 15 ran.
Sir Harry Ormesher 11-2 (11-6) Jumped left, held up in last, mistake 3rd, went 3rd after 4 out, left 2nd 3 out, beaten 2 out, fell last, in a race won by Duc De Regniere (11-2) at Kempton 2m 4f grad ch (2) gd in Nov, 4 ran.
Premier Dane (IRE) 20-1 (10-11) In touch, ridden 3 out, one pace from 2 out, 5th of 12, 8l behind Zabeel Palace (10-3) at Ascot 2m hcp hdl 0-145 (2) gd in Nov.
Calusa Crystal (FR) 5-2 (11-0) Led, not fluent 1st, hit and headed 14th, led again between last 2, kept on, won at Huntingdon 2m 4f Mares Novice Chase (4yo+) (4) gs in Dec beating Miss Sarenne (10-7) by 6l, 3 ran.
Sir Tantallus Hawk 7-1 (11-8) Held up mid-division, chased leaders 2 out, weakened after last, 4th of 13, 12l behind Open de L'Isle (10-9) at Hexham 2m hcp hdl 0-135 (3) hvy in Dec.
Sonowyouno (IRE) 5-4 (11-8) Soon held up in touch, keen early, chased leaders approaching 2 out, hard ridden, went 2nd after last, no chance with winner, 2nd of 7, 5l behind Master Of The Hall (11-0) at Sandown 2m nov hdl (3) hvy in Dec.
Fenix (GER) 25-1 (9-11) Took keen hold, soon prominent, weakened approaching 3 out, tailed off when pulled up before 2 out, in a race won by Micheal Flips (10-11) at Kempton 2m 5f hcp hdl (2) sft in Jan, 13 ran.
Cheshire Prince 4-1 (11-6) Mid-division, headway 4 out, led between last 2, ridden and stayed on well flat, won at Huntingdon 2m nh nov hdl (4) sft in Jan beating Action Impact (11-1) by 2l, 14 ran.
Darstardly Dick (IRE) 7-1 (11-8) Chased leading pair, challenged 3 out, led well before next, headed 2 out, weakened into moderate 4th when fell last, in a race won by Volador (11-6) at Wincanton 2m 6f hcp hdl 0-125 (3) hvy in Jan, 16 ran.
Kealshore Boy 8-1 (11-6) Mid-division, headway to lead 4 out, ridden after 2 out, kept on, won at Wetherby 2m 4f hcp hdl 0-120 (3) gd in Oct beating Goldan Jess (10-2) by 2 1/2l, 11 ran.
River D'or (FR) 16-1 (11-7) Held up in mid-division, headway to 2nd after 4 out, mistake and weakened 3 out, tailed off, 9th of 11, 44l behind Reve De Sivola (11-7) at Newbury 2m 5f Novice Hurdle (Grade 1) (4yo+) (1) hvy in Dec.
Good Old Thyme (IRE) 6-5fav (11-4) Tracked leaders, headway to lead 3 out, ridden and hard pressed when edged right between last 2, kept on until headed and no extra flat, 2nd of 13, 1/2l behind Extreme Impact (10-7) at Chepstow 2m nov hdl (4) hvy in Jan.
Divers (FR) 6-1 (11-4) Held up towards rear, headway after 3 out, no impression from 2 out, 3rd of 11, 14l behind Echo Point (11-12) at Sedgefield 2m 4f hcp hdl 0-130 (3) gd in Nov.
Stoop To Conquer 16-1 (11-12) Held up in rear, blundered 1st, headway after 4 out to track leaders, led last, kept on well, won at Huntingdon 2m 5f hcp hdl 0-110 (4) gs in Dec beating Key Cutter (11-7) by 1 1/4l, 16 ran.
Aqualung (FR) 16-1 (11-2) Took keen hold, chased leaders,weakened under pressure after 4 out, tailed off and pulled up after 3 out, in a race won by Money Order (11-7) at Chepstow 3m hcp hdl 0-130 (3) hvy in Dec, 14 ran.
Catch Bob (IRE) 9-2fav (10-4) Held up, weakened 3 out, pulled up before last, in a race won by Open de L'Isle (10-9) at Hexham 2m hcp hdl 0-135 (3) hvy in Dec, 13 ran.