There are no prizes for originality in putting KAUTO STAR forward for this. Paul Nicholls' 11-year-old may be worth opposing at Cheltenham in two months time but this is his arena and he will be a short price to gain a fifth successive triumph in this Grade 1 contest having put Madison Du Berlais, Nacarat and Albertas Run firmly in their place last season. The betting suggests Long Run will be his main rival and the six-year-old certainly has more scope than his rivals here. He wasn't disgraced when third in the Paddy Power Gold Cup on his reappearance and is certain to see out this trip, unlike stablemate Riverside Theatre or Planet Of Sound. Ante-post gamble The Nightingale may also have stamina limitations and Forpadydeplasterer has never raced over 3m before, though Thomas Cooper's 2010 Champion Chase runner-up is a high-class performer who has Grade 1 form over 2m5f on soft ground and a relaxed style of racing which suggests he's a viable each-way alternative to the favourite.
Albertas Run (IRE) 9-4 (11-11) Tracked leader 2nd, narrow lead from 5th, pressed by winner from 11th, mistake 4 out, joined and pushed along when fell heavily 3 out, in a race won by Master Minded (11-11) at Ascot 2m 3f Grade 2 chs (4yo+) (1) gs in Nov, 6 ran.
Forpadydeplasterer (IRE) 11-8fav (11-0) Raced wide, held up in 6th, headway to chase leaders 6th, went 2nd before upsides and every chance when hit 3 out, led 2 out, headed and not pace of winner flat, 2nd of 7, 4l behind Gauvain (11-0) at Cheltenham 2m chs (2) gs in Nov.
Kauto Star (FR) 4-7fav (11-10) Tracked leader in 2nd, close up 5 out, pushed along in 2nd approaching 3 out, led 3 out, ridden before next, kept on strongly from last, won at Down Royal 3m chs G1 (1) sft in Nov beating Sizing Europe (11-10) by 4l, 7 ran.
Long Run (FR) 2-1fav (11-1) In touch, not fluent 7th, driven to challenge when mistake 2 out, stayed on same pace, 3rd of 18, 5l behind Little Josh (10-5) at Cheltenham 2m 4f Grade 3 hcp chs (4yo+) (1) gs in Nov.
Madison Du Berlais (FR) 16-1 (10-1) Took keen hold, in touch when fell 4th, in a race won by Diamond Harry (10-0) at Newbury 3m 2f hcp chs Grd 3 (1) gs in Nov, 18 ran.
Nacarat (FR) 7-1 (11-7) Disputed 2nd, led narrowly 10th, headed 12th, chased winner, outpaced 3 out, soon no impression, lost 2nd last, no extra, 4th of 7, 12l behind Imperial Commander (11-7) at Haydock 3m chs G1 (1) gs in Nov.
Planet of Sound 17-2 (11-7) Held up in touch, tracked leading pair 5 out, driven and outpaced after next, kept on under pressure from 3 out, no impression, 3rd of 7, 9l behind Imperial Commander (11-7) at Haydock 3m chs G1 (1) gs in Nov.
Riverside Theatre 6-4fav (11-9) Tracked leading pair, headway 4 out, led before next, drew readily clear from next, very easily, won at Kempton 2m 4f grad ch (2) gd in Nov beating Free World (11-6) by 9l, 6 ran.
The Nightingale (FR) 3-1 (11-10) Tracked leaders, travelled well to challenge 3 out, led before next, ridden and kept on strongly from before last, won at Down Royal 2m 4f chs G2 (1) sft in Nov beating Roberto Goldback (11-10) by 11l, 7 ran.