For Non Stop was withdrawn from yesterday's King George VI Chase as the 3m may have stretched his stamina on heavy ground. He has a big chance in this, however, as he was trying to give Captain Chris 6lb at Ascot last month. He still finished ahead of Ghizao and should confirm that form here. Menorah's jumping is still a concern and, like French Opera, has shown his best form over 2m so the one to beat may be HUNT BALL. A real money-spinner last season, he could be excused his run under a big weight in the Paddy Power and he'd probably need to win this if he's to live up to Kieren Burke's expectations later in the campaign. Mr Gardner would struggle to trouble these, even if fully wound-up after a long absence.
For Non Stop (IRE) 10-3 (11-7) Raced centre, held up 4th and last, mistake 7th, close up 10th, outpaced after 2 out (usual 3 out), soon ridden, went 3rd approaching last, stayed on to take 2nd near finish, no impression with winner, 2nd of 4, 4l behind Captain Chris (11-1) at Ascot 2m 3f Grade 2 chs (4yo+) (1) hvy in Nov.
Ghizao (GER) 10-1 (11-7) Raced centre, led, headed narrowly 6th, led again 10th, headed narrowly after 2 out (usual 3 out), 2 lengths down and ridden last, no impression flat, lost 2nd near finish, 3rd of 4, 4l behind Captain Chris (11-1) at Ascot 2m 3f Grade 2 chs (4yo+) (1) hvy in Nov.
Menorah (IRE) 4-1 (11-10) Held up in 5th, shaken up briefly after 4th, not fluent next, closed from 6th, ridden to chase winner 4 out, no impression, well held when bad mistake and lost 2nd last, 3rd of 5, 34l behind Cue Card (11-7) at Exeter 2m 1f ltd hcp chs Grd 2 (1) gs in Nov.
Hunt Ball (IRE) 9-1 (11-6) Mid-division, headway to chase leaders 9th, weakened under pressure after 4 out, pulled up before 2 out, in a race won by Al Ferof (11-8) at Cheltenham 2m 4f Grade 3 hcp chs (4yo+) (1) sft in Nov, 18 ran.
French Opera 6-1 (11-2) Not fluent, held up in 6th and off the pace, slow 4th, struggling 7th, switched right before last, went poor 4th flat, never involved, 4th of 8, 23l behind Sanctuaire (11-2) at Sandown 2m chs G2 (1) sft in Apr.
Mr Gardner (IRE) 6-1 (11-4) Led, not fluent 4th and next, blundered and headed 6th, chased leaders, mistake 8th(water), lost place next, pulled up quickly after 10th, in a race won by Noble Prince (11-4) at Cheltenham 2m 4f nov chs G2 (1) gd in Mar '11, 11 ran.