Asker and Cosimo de Medici are interesting converts from the Flat in this while Hung Parliament won a Listed race at Deauville as a two-year-old when trained by Tom Dascombe. Rysbrack was second over C&D last month but the pair to concentrate on may be Spirit Of Shankly and RIVER MAIGUE. The former was only beaten a length in a Listed race here in October on his hurdles bow but was surprisingly beaten at Ludlow next time so we'll give the vote to Nicky Henderson's charge, who ran a cracker when second to Dodging Bullets in a Grade 2 at Cheltenham last month and faces nothing of the winner's calibre in this. Dual bumper winner New Year's Eve is preferred to the penalised Kings Lad of the others.
Kings Lad (IRE) 7-2 (11-8) Mid-division, driven and headway 3 out, soon ridden to challenge, weakened after 2 out, 3rd of 8, 18l behind Meganisi (11-5) at Newbury 2m nh nov hdl (3) sft in Nov.
Asker (IRE) 9-4 (10-7) Held up on outside, headway 4f out, led 3f out, clear over 1f out, ridden out, won at Worcester 2m mdn nat hunt flat (6) gd in Oct '11 beating No No Charlie (11-10) by 11l, 11 ran.
Avison (IRE) 25-1 (9-2) Held up, ridden over 3f out, soon beaten, 10th of 12, well behind Zarosa (7-9) at Nottingham 2m hcp 0-65 (6) sft in Oct (flat).
Cosimo De Medici 20-1 (9-12) Started very slowly, behind, headway over 1f out, never nearer, 8th of 16, 11l behind Daneking (9-0) at Doncaster 1m 7f hcp 0-85 (4) sft in Oct (flat).
Hung Parliament (FR) 50-1 (8-13) Led, headed 4f out, ridden over 2f out, soon weakened, 14th of 15, 45l behind First Mohican (9-4) at Nottingham 1m 2f hcp 0-95 (3) sft in Oct (flat).
New Year's Eve 15-2 (11-4) Mid-division, 6th and pushed along 6f out, ridden and no extra 5f out, weakened and eased before straight, completely tailed off and virtually pulled up straight, 9th of 10, well behind Champagne Fever (12-0) at Punchestown 2m N H flat G1 (1) hvy in Apr.
Professeur Emery (FR) 5-2 (10-12) Took keen hold, led and soon well clear, ridden and reduced advantage when went right and hit 2 out, went right last, headed towards finish, 2nd of 12, 3 1/2l behind Kumbeshwar (10-12) at Sandown 2m 4yo hdl (4) gd in Feb '11.
River Maigue (IRE) 4-1 (11-0) Took keen hold, chased leading pair, driven before last, stayed on to 2nd run-in, kept on in closing stages, never quite able to challenge, 2nd of 8, 1 1/2l behind Dodging Bullets (11-7) at Cheltenham 2m nov hdl G2 (1) gs in Nov.
Rysbrack (USA) 9-4 (10-12) Keen tracked leaders, lost place 5th, headway 3 out, ridden to chase winner approaching last, ran on, not trouble winner, 2nd of 9, 4 1/2l behind Golden Hoof (10-12) at Kempton 2m nh nov hdl (4) gs in Nov.
Spirit Of Shankly 4-6fav (11-0) Tracked leaders, went 2nd 2nd until after 6th, led 3 out, went left after 2 out, headed before last, unable to quicken flat, 3rd of 15, 2 3/4l behind Karazhan (11-0) at Ludlow 2m mdn hdl (5) gd in Nov.
Zebrano 9-1 (10-11) Took keen hold, held up behind, headway into mid-division 4th, not fluent next, outpaced 3 out, weakened after next, 7th of 12, 32l behind Pearl Swan (10-7) at Taunton 2m 1f nh nov hdl (3) gs in Jan.