Gina Andrews is the most experienced of these riders and her mount, Circus Star, has been steadily dropping to a fair mark. Alexandra Stirling gave DARK ENERGY a peach of a ride in a similar race to this at Market Rasen last month, delivering her challenge to perfection off a strong gallop. With similar tactics likely an 8lb rise looks manageable and the combination can strike again. The Fox's Decree has been going well over fences but has had 28 starts over hurdles without getting on the scoresheet while last year's winner Cityar is 10lb higher and was well beaten on his latest start over the C&D. Descaro is still a maiden after a dozen starts over timber but was in reasonable form on the Flat during the summer and will get a good ride from Alice Mills.
Persian Herald 14-1 (11-2) Took keen hold, chased leaders, ridden 2 out, no extra last, 6th of 10, 15l behind Natural High (11-6) at Worcester 2m hcp hdl 0-120 (4) gd in Oct.
Dark Energy 4-1 (11-5) Raced wide mid-division, headway to track leaders 2nd, ridden to press leader 2 out, led last, ran on, won at Market Rasen 2m 1f hcp hld 0-95 (5) sft in Nov beating Lean Burn (11-0) by 3l, 11 ran.
Super Collider 17-2 (11-12) Held up towards rear, headway approaching 7th, not fluent next, went 2nd when blundered badly 2 out, weakened last, 5th of 12, 21l behind Likearollingstone (11-4) at Southwell 2m 4f hcp hdl 0-105 (4) gd in Aug.
Numen (IRE) 40-1 (11-7) Went left start, soon prominent, led 2nd until not fluent 6th, no extra 2 out, 12th of 15, 36l behind Shabak Hom (10-8) at Ludlow 2m hcp hdl 0-110 (4) gd in Oct.
Descaro (USA) 10-1 (10-12) Held up towards rear, outpaced after 4 out, kept on from 3 out, no impression, 5th of 9, 13l behind My Arch (11-10) at Wetherby 3m 1f hcp hdl 0-120 (4) gs in Dec '11.
Drussell (IRE) 33-1 (10-12) Held up, lost touch 11th, left remote 4th 2 out, tailed off, 4th of 7, well behind Golden Call (10-12) at Bangor 2m 4f nov chs (4) gs in May.
Murfreesboro 16-1 (11-6) In rear, hampered approaching 3 out, no impression after, mistake 3 out, 8th of 11, 22l behind Bosamcliff (11-2) at Uttoxeter 2m hcp hdl 0-100 (5) hvy in Nov.
Cityar (FR) 28-1 (10-13) Tracked leaders, hampered after 3rd, not fluent 5th, bumped after next, weakened flat, 5th of 15, 24l behind Shabak Hom (10-8) at Ludlow 2m hcp hdl 0-110 (4) gd in Oct.
Circus Star (USA) 5-1 (11-12) Tracked leaders and keen, ridden and weakened before last, 4th of 9, 18l behind Lean Burn (10-4) at Uttoxeter 2m hcp hdl 0-100 (5) sft in Nov.
The Fox's Decree 4-1 (11-1) Tracked winner, ridden 3 out, held when blundered and fell last, in a race won by Witch's Hat (10-9) at Leicester 2m 4f hcp 0-100 (5) gs, 5 ran.
Spit (IRE) 11-1 (12-0) Went 2nd 13; ev ch 3 out; btn nxt, 4th of 5, 8l behind Foundry Square (12-0) at Cold Harbour 3m ptp gs in May.
Feeling (IRE) 25-1 (11-2) Mid-division, headway 8th, weakened before 3 out, pulled up before next, in a race won by Tisfreetdream (10-7) at Ludlow 2m 5f am hcp hdl 0-95 (5) gd in Nov, 18 ran.
Samizdat (FR) 40-1 (10-4) Tracked leaders, led 2nd, clear with one other 4th, headed when hit 2 out, kept on one pace, 4th of 11, 15l behind Dark Energy (11-5) at Market Rasen 2m 1f hcp hld 0-95 (5) sft in Nov.
Nicky Nutjob (GER) 14-1 (10-2) Led, headed soon after 3 out, ridden and weakened approaching next, 9th of 11, 32l behind Majestic Bull (10-5) at Bangor 2m 1f hcp hdl (5) hvy.