A very nice prize but a poor turnout. Newcomer Phase Shift is unlikely to prove good enough given that her only success on the Flat came in a Class 6 event at Catterick last month. Last year's Finale Juvenile Hurdle winner Hollow Tree beat subsequent Triumph Hurdle winner Countrywide Flame in the mud at Chepstow and found the ground too quick behind that rival at Cheltenham. Balder Succes fell when travelling well in the Triumph and unshipped his rider at the first at Punchestown subsequently. He'll be better for his recent run at Wincanton and will be fit enough but he'll also be short enough in the betting and FACE VALUE could find the necessary improvement to take this. The Irish raider doesn't have the hurdling form of his two main rivals but he's improved out of all recognition on the Flat completing a hat-trick including the November Handicap at Leopardstown on his latest start.
Hollow Tree 20-1 (11-0) Tracked leaders on inside, headway 2 out, ridden to lead between last 2, headed and ridden when switched left approaching last, no extra flat, 7th of 20, 10l behind Countrywide Flame (11-0) at Cheltenham 2m 1f 4yo hdl Grade 1 (1) gd in Mar.
Balder Succes (FR) 3-1 (10-8) Tracked leaders, took keen hold, not fluent 2nd, switched left after 2 out, 3rd and beaten when not fluent last, no extra flat, 3rd of 7, 7l behind Zarkandar (11-10) at Wincanton 2m Ltd hcp hdl (1) gs.
Face Value 16-1 (10-11) Chased leaders, 3rd halfway, ridden and no extra after 3 out, 9th of 16, 39l behind Burrenbridge Lodge (11-5) at Listowel 2m 4yo hcp hdl hvy in Sep.
Phase Shift 5-2 (9-2) Tracked leaders, went 2nd over 6f out, led over 3f out, ridden and weakened over 2f out, 4th of 6, 17l behind Arley Hall (8-12) at Redcar 1m 2f clm stks (6) hvy (flat).