HELL'S BAY may have been beaten out of sight by Diamond Harry in the Challow Hurdle last season, but that level of form is better than anything offered Distiller, Latanier and Is It Me; so this appears to be a good starting point over fences for the Paul Nicholls-trained gelding. The champion trainer seems to have turned the corner with his string and it would come as no surprise to see a flood of winners coming from the yard in the run-up to Christmas. This son of Supreme Leader has plenty of scope as a chaser and can be expected to be hard to beat today. Is It Me gained a confidence booster in a selling hurdle at Uttoxeter before going close over fences here earlier in the month. He is holding his form well but this is a stronger test than he has faced for a while, so he has a bit to prove. Latanier is getting the hang of things and can be a thorn in the side of the selection, while Distiller would be dangerous to rule out if he is revived by the fitting of blinkers for the first time. However, Hell's Bay is a stand out on the evidence available and looks the safest option in this Beginners' Chase.
Circus of Dreams 8-1 (11-3) Held up in rear, struggling 9th, soon ridden, pulled up before 3 out, in a race won by Bench Warrent (11-3) at Market Rasen 2m 6f nov chs 0-120 (3) sft, 6 ran.
Distiller (IRE) 16-1 (11-7) Prominent, weakened 3 out, mistake last, 12th of 14, 28l behind Right Option (10-4) at Cheltenham 2m 5f hcp hdl 0-140 (2) gf in Oct.
Hell's Bay (FR) 10-11fav (11-6) In touch, ridden 3 out, weakened next, 4th of 11, 29l behind Roman Conquest (10-13) at Chepstow 2m 4f nh nov hdl (4) gd in Apr.
Is It Me (USA) 14-1 (11-1) Led to 2nd, chased winner, jumped left 4th and 5th, lost 2nd approaching 4 out, regained that position 3 out, no chance with winner, 2nd of 7, 12l behind First Point (11-1) at Ludlow 2m beg chs (4) gs.
Latanier (FR) 16-1 (11-2) Led, headed after 6th, led 9th, soon headed, remained close up until weakened approaching 2 out, 4th of 6, 18l behind Burton Port (11-2) at Bangor 2m 4f beg chs (4) sft.
Paddleyourowncanoe (IRE) 10-1 (11-5) Mid-division, hampered 5th, pushed along after 3 out, stayed on flat, never nearer, 8th of 22, 15l behind Andytown (11-4) at Cheltenham 2m 5f cond hcp hdl 4yo+ (3) sft in Nov '08.
Rockiteer (IRE) 10-1 (10-9) Held up towards rear, pushed along briefly after 4th, under pressure before 6th, good headway after 3 out, led after 2 out, in command last, ran on well, won at Bangor 2m 1f hcp hdl 0-130 (3) gd in Oct beating Norma Hill (11-11) by 9l, 8 ran.