Anak sets the standard here but it is far from an insurmountable one, with BRAVEHEART MOVE and Watergate fascinating contenders on their hurdling bows. Our selection was talked of as a live outsider for the Derby when trained by Sir Mark Prescott, and although never quite living up to those aspirations he did achieve a rating of 95 on the level. That rating looks fully justified and new connections paid six figures for his services, so they'll be hopeful of a big run on debut with the trip set to pose no problems for this son of Cape Cross. He's yet to encounter ground this soft but it shouldn't be a problem, so he gets the vote over fellow hurdling debutant Watergate. This one was also formerly in the care of Sir Mark but now runs in the colours of The Stewart Family for Paul Nicholls. Hailing from such connections he clearly merits respect, but he's plenty to find with our pick on flat ratings. The four-year-old was last seen in October when narrowly denied over 1m2f so the trip should be ideal and he seems to act with a bit of cut, and the market should tell us more as to the stables expectations. The newcomers look like they could be too good for those seen out already, of whom Anak rates the most likely to cause an upset. Jim Best's runner will relish conditions as a winner on heavy ground at Plumpton, and his rating of 121 sets the benchmark. Our feeling is that he'll struggle to give weight to the two promising newcomers and he looks booked for third at best. Ciceron weakened rapidly on his first outing in Britain but may yet be capable of better, so it'll be interesting to see how he goes in the market. The Venetia Williams inmate is readily preferred to Luthien of the others, the last-named having achieved only a very moderate level of form on the flat and it remains to be seen whether his second on hurdling introduction will be backed up by another solid run. Abulharith has been beaten out of sight in similar contests whilst both Douchette and Mallorey showed precious little last time, and with Sir John being exposed as moderate this looks best left to the newcomers of whom Braveheart Move is readily preferred.
Anak (IRE) 7-2 (11-5) Chased winner until awkward and driven along 5th, chased winner under pressure again before 2 out, no impression soon after, well held when not fluent last, 2nd of 7, 9l behind Westlin' Winds (11-2) at Plumpton 2m 3yo nov hdl (4) sft in Dec.
Abulharith 100-1 (10-12) Held up, effort approaching 3 out, no impression, 7th of 15, 27l behind Alazan (11-5) at Doncaster 2m 3yo nov hdl (4) gd in Dec.
Braveheart Move (IRE) 5-1 (9-1) Mid-division, ridden and headway 3f out, driven to lead well inside final furlong, won at Hamilton 1m 5f hcp 0-95 (3) gd in Sep beating Merchant Of Dubai (10-0) by nk, 9 ran (flat).
Ciceron (IRE) 9-2 (10-12) Tracked leaders, headway to challenge when jumped right 2 out, ridden and no impression approaching last, lost 2nd flat, 3rd of 7, 18l behind Westlin' Winds (10-9) at Hereford 2m 1f 3yo nov hdl (3) gs in Nov.
Mallorey 33-1 (10-12) Always behid, tailed off, 7th of 11, well behind Orzare (10-12) at Newbury 2m 3yo nov hdl (3) hvy in Dec.
Sir John 50-1 (10-2) Mistake 2nd, always behind, tailed off when hit 3 out, 9th of 11, well behind Orzare (10-12) at Newbury 2m 3yo nov hdl (3) hvy in Dec.
Watergate (IRE) 12-1 (8-12) Keen, tracked leaders, ridden to chase leader 1f out, driven to lead inside final furlong, headed post, 2nd of 12, hd behind Ellmau (9-5) at Nottingham 1m 2f hcp 0-85 (4) gs in Oct (flat).
Douchkette (FR) (9-13) 8th of 16, well behind Mist De Chine (9-13) at Compiegne(FR) 2m hdl sft in May.
Luthien (IRE) 100-1 (10-12) Mid-division, improved to 3rd 3 out, ridden to chase winner 2 out, soon one pace, 2nd of 9, 8l behind Evening Sunset (11-5) at Fakenham 2m juv fll nov hdl (3yo) (4) gd in Nov.