It's quite a surprise to find UN DE SCEAUX running in a conditions event as he's not a big price for the Champion Hurdle and is in the Irish version in a fortnight's time. Unbeaten and hardly tested in all five starts to date, he'll be a short price here despite coming up against the high-class chaser Foildubh, who beat another Willie Mullins hot-pot in Rubi Ball over hurdles at Thurles in November. Flaxen Flare is saddled with a penalty for his victory in the Fred Winter at Cheltenham but returned to something like that form in the Ladbroke at Ascot last time. Akatara has a massive amount to find at the weights.
Flaxen Flare (IRE) 16-1 (11-2) Held up in mid-division, mistake 4th, hampered 3 out, stayed on under pressure from 2 out, went modest 3rd before last, no chance with leading duo, 3rd of 20, 11l behind Willow's Saviour (10-5) at Ascot 2m hcp hdl Grade 3 (1) sft in Dec.
Foildubh (IRE) 33-1 (11-10) Chased leaders and 6th halfway, 8th 2 out and ridden entering straight, under pressure and kept on one pace, 6th of 9, 11l behind Bobs Worth (11-10) at Leopardstown 3m chs G1 (1) in Dec.
Un De Sceaux (FR) Evens6fav (11-9) Made all, extended advantage to 10 lengths 3 out, drew well clear in straight, slight mistake last, very easily,, won at Thurles 2m hdl sft in Dec beating Rory O'Moore (11-2) by 29l, 3 ran.
Akatara (IRE) 14-1 (11-1) Soon mid-division, closed to chase leaders approaching 3 out, moderate 7th 2 out, moderate 6th last, kept on same pace, 6th of 16, 14l behind Luke's Benefit (10-12) at Fairyhouse 2m hcp hdl 80-109 in Dec.