TOPTHORN's victory at Ludlow last month came in a higher grade. He's lightly raced under Rules and may well be capable of defying a 9lb higher mark here. Plumpton winner Escardo looks held on a line through Ludlow runner-up Benny's Quest, who beat David Bridgwater's gelding at Worcester in August. Guns Of Love was well beaten at Worcester last month after winning over today's C&D on faster ground in August and none of the others make much appeal on recent form, though Al Amaan should be capable of better.
Topthorn 7-1 (10-10) Always prominent, led 4 out, stayed on well, won at Ludlow 2m hcp chs 0-105 (4) gd in Oct beating Bennys Quest (11-1) by 7l, 11 ran.
Al Amaan 10-1 (11-9) Raced keenly, led, headed and stumbled 4 out, chased winner until after 3 out, weakened before next, tailed off, 5th of 7, well behind Bazart (10-7) at Plumpton 2m hcp hdl 0-95 (5) gd in Sep.
Escardo (GER) 5-2 (10-7) Prominent, jumped right 8th, led 4 out, ridden clear last, ran on well, won at Plumpton 2m 1f hcp 0-100 (5) gs in Oct beating Pepito Collonges (9-10) by 3 1/2l, 4 ran.
Murphy (IRE) 5-1 (11-7) Unseated rider 1st, in a race won by Zelos Diktator (11-5) at Plumpton 2m hcp hdl 0-95 (5) gf in Sep '11, 9 ran.
Normandy Landings 5-1 (11-7) Chased leaders, ridden after 5 out, weakened next, 5th of 7, well behind Gunship (11-2) at Newton Abbot 2m 5f hcp chs 0-95 (5) gd in Apr '11.
Guns of Love (IRE) 10-1 (9-11) Tracked leaders, went 2nd 4th, led 9th, headed 4 out, weakened approaching 2 out, 5th of 6, 42l behind Full Ov Beans (9-7) at Worcester 2m hcp chs 0-105 (4) gd in Oct.
Strawhall Maul (IRE) 15-2 (10-4) Soon tracking leaders, led 15th, headed before 4 out, every chance last, no extra flat, 4th of 11, 7l behind Changing Lanes (11-5) at Ludlow 3m am hcp ch 0-95 (5) gd in Oct.
Lerida 18-1 (10-3) Led until 2nd, chased leader until 9th, chased leaders, one pace and no impression, after 3 out, went modest 3rd last, 3rd of 8, 23l behind Strathaird (9-10) at Sedgefield 2m hcp chs 0-95 (5) gd in Mar.
Benny The Swinger (IRE) 25-1 (10-5) Tracked leaders, reminders 8th, lost place next, behind when pulled up before 10th, in a race won by Hunt Ball (10-7) at Fontwell 2m 4f hcp chs 0-95 (5) sft in Dec, 9 ran.
Peak Seasons (IRE) 100-1 (9-7) Towards rear, ridden after 9th, plugged on before last, never a chance, 5th of 11, 32l behind Local Present (10-1) at Fakenham 2m 5f hcp 0-100 (5) gs in Oct.
Grand Fella (IRE) 200-1 (10-7) Tracked leader, ridden after 7th, weakened approaching 4 out, 4th of 5, well behind Royale's Charter (11-0) at Worcester 2m nov chs (4) gd in Aug.
Wishes Or Watches (IRE) 25-1 (9-7) Took keen hold, chased leaders until weakened before 4 out, tailed off, last of 5, 41l behind Cypress Grove (11-3) at Fontwell 2m 2f hcp chs 0-95 (5) sft in Mar.