Willie Mullins appears to have ironed out the jumping problems of QUEL ESPRIT and that should be enough for him to take this. A classy hurdler, he made a winning start over fences before twice falling when in the lead in races eventually won by today's rival Bostons Angel. He's looked a potential champion on his two runs this season and will be very difficult to beat. Bostons Angel went on to glory in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham where Magnanimity was a close fourth. He's been brought along slowly this season but should be ready for this and must be a major threat. After beating Sizing Europe at Punchestown in 2010, China Rock has competed exclusively at Grade 1 level over fences and had a warm up over hurdles last month. He's another who should be approaching his peak and should give a good account.
Bostons Angel (IRE) 2-1fav (11-11) Held up, jumped slowly 2nd and next, left 8 lengths 3rd 3 out, soon ridden, stayed on same pace, unable to challenge, 3rd of 5, 7l behind Golan Way (11-5) at Sandown 3m Listed chs (1) gs in Dec.
China Rock (IRE) 12-1 (11-10) Tracked leaders, 3rd halfway, dropped to 4th after 3 out, no impression in straight, kept on one pace, 4th of 6, 21l behind Ipsos Du Berlais (11-6) at Punchestown 2m 4f hdl in Jan.
Follow The Plan (IRE) 11-2 (11-10) Tracked leaders, slightly slow 7 out, close up and on terms from 3 out, no extra under pressure and kept on same pace run-in, 2nd of 5, 4 1/2l behind Apt Approach (11-3) at Thurles 2m 4f chs Grd 2 (1) sft in Jan.
Magnanimity (IRE) 20-1 (11-10) Chased leaders on outer, 6th halfway, mistake 10th, 5th 3 out, no extra after next, weakened in straight, 8th of 9, 50l behind Synchronised (11-10) at Leopardstown 3m chs G1 (1) gd in Dec.
Quel Esprit (FR) 2-7fav (11-3) Tracked leader, on terms from 4th, definite leader 6 out, went on from before next, stayed on well, very easily, won at Thurles 2m 2f chs Grade 3 (1) hvy in Jan beating Whodoyouthink (11-3) by 15l, 5 ran.
Roberto Goldback (IRE) 2-1 (11-8) Close up, mistake 1st, dropped to 3rd and ridden before straight, soon no impression and kept on same pace, 3rd of 5, 14l behind Apt Approach (11-3) at Thurles 2m 4f chs Grd 2 (1) sft in Jan.
Treacle (IRE) 20-1 (10-8) Mid-division, headway into 7th 3 out, ridden in 5th 2 out, kept on well from last to press winner close home, 2nd of 26, 3/4l behind Cross Appeal (10-4) at Leopardstown 3m hcp chs 0-145 in Dec.