Another depleted field but one that should provide a straightforward opportunity for BAY CHERRY, with Fabalu and Supreme Builder the two most likely to cause an upset. Howard Johnson's two time point-to-point winner had taken time to find his feet over fences before scoring with plenty in hand off a mark of 111 last time out. That six-length success would've been further had the race been run at today's increased trip and with softening conditions holding no terrors for the gelding connections will be disappointed if he can't make it two from two in handicap company here. Fabalu has to carry top weight here but should be capable of running a big race for the in-form Donald McCain yard. The gelding won under similar conditions two starts ago and on the face of it a mark of 124 wouldn't appear too bad but he was beaten some 18 lengths by the selection last time and a 5lb pull in the weights really shouldn't be enough to alter positions here given that both horses were returning from an absence and there appeared nothing fortunate about the result that day. Nevertheless, Fabalu might be able to improve enough to take second this time. Supreme Builder fell in a decent novice chase on his reappearance back in October. If showing no ill effects from that incident Ferdy Murphy's charge should be competitive off this mark, just 1lb higher than that achieved in winning a novice hurdle last season, and so this son of Supreme Leader merits a look. Of the other two Maidstone Mixture looks up against it despite receiving weight from all of his rivals whilst the consistent Stagecoach Diamond finds winning a struggle and so we return to Bay Cherry who rates a confident choice.
Fabalu (IRE) 5-2 (11-12) Led, headed approaching 3rd, weakened approaching last, 4th of 7, 18l behind Bay Cherry (10-13) at Kelso 2m 6f nov hcp chs 0-125 (3) hvy in Nov.
Bay Cherry (IRE) 9-1 (10-13) Chased leaders, led approaching 3rd, headed 5th, led again 10th, driven out, won at Kelso 2m 6f nov hcp chs 0-125 (3) hvy in Nov beating Waterski (9-9) by 6l, 7 ran.
Supreme Builder 25-1 (11-2) Held up in rear when fell 9th, in a race won by Door Boy (11-2) at Aintree 2m 4f nov chs (3) gd in Oct, 5 ran.
Stagecoach Diamond 11-2 (10-13) Made most until headed 10th, weakened approaching 4 out, 4th of 8, 34l behind Mumbles Head (11-2) at Newcastle 2m 4f beg chs (4) gs in Nov.
Maidstone Mixture (FR) 20-1 (10-0) Prominent, led 5th, headed 10th, chasing leaders when fell 13th, in a race won by Bay Cherry (10-13) at Kelso 2m 6f nov hcp chs 0-125 (3) hvy in Nov, 7 ran.