ONIZ TIPTOES is the only recent winner and he wasn't disgraced when fourth in a higher grade hurdle race last time. A runner-up over these fences in December, he gets the vote back over the larger obstacles. Royaume Bleu's latest second at Uttoxeter gives him a shout and Vin De Roy has been given a chance by the handicapper as he's dropped another 6lb after a sixth at Doncaster. Whiskey Ridge is also slipping down the weights but has yet to take advantage, while Stick Together has been in better form over hurdles of late but will need to step up on his two previous efforts over fences to figure.
Vin De Roy (FR) 7-1 (11-3) Towards rear, not jump well, blundered 10th, headway before 6 out, one pace when hit last, 6th of 9, 14l behind Quetzal (11-8) at Doncaster 3m hcp ch 0-110 (4) gd in Jan.
Stick Together 9-2 (10-11) Held up in touch, reminders and in rear before 4 out, kept on from 3 out, no impression, 4th of 7, 9l behind Arctic Actress (10-6) at Doncaster 2m 3f mares hcp hdl 0-115 (4) gs in Dec.
Pistol Basc (FR) 14-1 (10-11) Took keen hold, held up in rear, closer order 9th, travelling ok whe mistake and stumbled badly 13th, weakened, not recover, 5th of 6, 41l behind Hopeful Start (11-3) at Wetherby 3m 1f hcp ch 0-110 (4) sft in Jan.
Oniz Tiptoes (IRE) 6-1 (10-0) Held up in rear, ridden and struggling after 4 out, mistake next, stayed on from last to modest 4th close home, 4th of 7, 12l behind Knockando (11-8) at Wetherby 3m 1f hcp hdl 0-115 (4) sft in Jan.
Whiskey Ridge (IRE) 8-1 (10-10) In rear, blundered 6 out, never able to challenge, 3rd of 8, 23l behind Nodebateaboutit (11-2) at Wetherby 3m 1f nov hcp chs 0-110 (4) sft in Dec.
Esme Rides A Gaine 16-1 (10-0) Tracked leaders, lost place 3rd, reminders 7th, headway 3 out, kept on to go 3rd flat, 3rd of 8, 15l behind Wide Receiver (11-2) at Market Rasen 3m 5f hcp chs 0-120 (4) sft in Dec.
Royaume Bleu (FR) 11-2 (10-9) Mid-division, hit 2nd, headway 4th, chased winner after 12th, 6 lengths down 3 out, stayed on flat, just held, 2nd of 8, 1l behind Pensnett Bay (11-4) at Uttoxeter 2m 5f nov hcp chs 0-100 (5) hvy in Jan.
Thorncliffer 20-1 (11-0) Chased leaders, ridden after 8th, mistake 10th, weakened approaching 12th, bad mistake 4 out, tailed off, 4th of 8, 49l behind Pensnett Bay (11-4) at Uttoxeter 2m 5f nov hcp chs 0-100 (5) hvy in Jan.
Oh Right (IRE) 8-1 (10-2) Tracked leaders, mistake 1st, blundered 5th, pushed along after 6th, soon behind, 7th of 8, 50l behind Tears From Heaven (9-12) at Musselburgh 3m hcp ch 0-95 (5) gd in Jan.
Feeling Peckish (USA) 50-1 (10-7) Tracked leaders, ridden and lost place over 4f out, weakened over 3f out, 8th of 13, 29l behind Rory Boy (10-11) at Southwell 2m n h flat (6) std.