This used to be an important Grand National trial but Bobs Worth's victory last year and subsequent triumph in the Gold Cup suggests it can also be used as a pointer towards Cheltenham nowadays. The great Denman won it twice and proven class has become increasingly important in recent years. Lord Windermere is attempting to emulate Bob's Worth, arriving off the back of victory in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham in March. Prince De Beauchene is a Grade 2 winner and supplements a strong Irish challenge. Houblon Des Obeaux beat Merry King over 3m at Ascot but was well behind Lord Windermere at Cheltenham and was beaten by Rocky Creek on better terms at Ascot earlier. Paul Nicholls' lightly-raced seven-year-old is certainly interesting in this while Our Father goes well fresh and may have a bit more scope than Hadrian's Approach. Theatre Guide is hard to predict but has each-way claims if on a going day and Invictus had smart novice form before his enforced break. HIGHLAND LODGE didn't run his race behind Rocky Creek at Warwick in January after beating Our Father at Cheltenham but is 11lb better off here and looked right back to his best when chasing home the prolific Standing Ovation, who was receiving 26lb, at Wincanton on his reappearance. Emma Lavelle's stayer can come out on top today.
Cape Tribulation 15-2 (11-10) Held up in rear, outpaced before 5 out, soon weakened, pulled up before next, in a race won by Harry Topper (11-6) at Wetherby 3m 1f chs Grd 2 (1) gs, 7 ran.
Katenko (FR) 4-1fav (10-13) Tracked leader, led 11th, narrow advantage when bumped and left 3 lengths clear 3 out, stayed on well from next, won at Cheltenham 2m 5f hcp chs G3 (1) hvy in Jan beating Fruity O'Rooney (10-5) by 12l, 16 ran.
Prince De Beauchene (FR) 7-1 (11-10) Prominent and close up early, 3rd from 7th, dropped to rear before 7 out, headway into 4th and mistake 3 out, soon ridden, no impression in moderate 3rd 2 out, kept on one pace, 3rd of 6, 23l behind Roi Du Mee (11-10) at Down Royal 3m chs G1 (1) sft.
Lord Windermere (IRE) 8-1 (11-4) Held up in touch on inside, smooth headway after 4 out, stumbled slightly on bend after next, switched outside and effort 2 out, every chance when left 2nd last, ridden to lead flat, kept on, won at Cheltenham 3m nov chs G1 (1) gs in Mar beating Lyreen Legend (11-4) by 1 3/4l, 11 ran.
Houblon Des Obeaux (FR) 12-1 (11-3) Chased leaders went 2nd 10th, mistake next, led 16th, clear before 2 out, well in command when mistake last, driven out, won at Ascot 3m Grade 3 hcp chs (4yo+) (1) gs beating Merry King (10-10) by 6l, 16 ran.
Imperial Commander (IRE) 11-1 (11-10) Chased leaders to 20th, soon weakened, behind when pulled up before 22nd, in a race won by Auroras Encore (10-3) at Aintree 4m 3f (1) gs in Apr, 40 ran.
Rocky Creek (IRE) 9-4fav (11-4) Pressed leader to 9th, remained in touch, driven 4 out, ridden after next, soon no impression, went moderate 3rd last, 3rd of 6, 24l behind Dynaste (11-4) at Aintree 3m 1f nov chs G2 (1) gd in Apr.
Cloudy Too (IRE) 4-1 (11-6) Tracked leaders, closed 8th, bumped 10th, led next, clear 2 out, edged left flat, stayed on well, won at Carlisle 2m 4f Listed chs (1) hvy beating Tap Night (11-2) by 8l, 5 ran.
Super Duty (IRE) 4-1 (11-4) Made most, reminders from 12th, not fluent 14th, driven 4 out, headed after next, soon ridden, one pace 2 out, no chance with front pair when lost 3rd last, 4th of 6, 26l behind Dynaste (11-4) at Aintree 3m 1f nov chs G2 (1) gd in Apr.
Triolo D'alene (FR) 7-1 (11-6) Held up towards rear, steady headway after 14th, chased leaders before 2 out, soon edged right under pressure , went 3rd 2 out, went 2nd approaching last until last, 3rd and one pace flat, 3rd of 16, 9l behind Houblon Des Obeaux (11-3) at Ascot 3m Grade 3 hcp chs (4yo+) (1) gs.
Same Difference (IRE) 9-1 (11-0) Led, headed 8th, chased leaders, mistakes 12th and next, ridden and weakened before 3 out, tailed off, 11th of 16, 36l behind Houblon Des Obeaux (11-3) at Ascot 3m Grade 3 hcp chs (4yo+) (1) gs.
Our Father (IRE) 4-1 (11-8) Took keen hold, held up in last pair, outpaced and no chance from 14th, eased, tailed off, 4th of 5, well behind Unioniste (11-4) at Newbury 3m nov chs (3) sft in Feb.
Opening Batsman (IRE) 8-1 (11-7) Well in rear, never a factor, tailed off when pulled up before 2 out, in a race won by Houblon Des Obeaux (11-3) at Ascot 3m Grade 3 hcp chs (4yo+) (1) gs, 16 ran.
Hadrian's Approach (IRE) 11-10fav (11-6) Tracked leader until mistake 4 out, regained 2nd before 3 out, ridden before last, stayed on, just held post, 2nd of 5, ns behind Bury Parade (11-2) at Kempton 2m 4f grad ch (2) gs.
Invictus (IRE) 6-1 (11-4) Held up in last pair but never far away on inside, headway to track leaders 14th, effort to lead 2 out, clear before last, stayed on strongly, won at Ascot 3m nov chs G2 (1) gs in Feb '12 beating Bobs Worth (11-7) by 3l, 7 ran.
Theatre Guide (IRE) 3-1 (11-9) Tracked leaders in 3rd, went 2nd 4 out until before next, one pace and no impression on front pair, 3rd of 5, 9l behind Bury Parade (11-2) at Kempton 2m 4f grad ch (2) gs.
Terminal (FR) 12-1 (11-4) Soon tracked leaders, 5th 5 out, no extra next and pulled up before 3 out, in a race won by White Star Line (10-4) at Listowel 3m sft in Sep, 18 ran.
Highland Lodge (IRE) 6-4fav (11-12) Tended to jump left, led, narrowly headed after 18th, stayed challenging, ridden and rallying when not fluent 3 out, driven and every chance when awkward and went left 2 out, still pressing winner when awkward last, no extra flat, 2nd of 12, 1 3/4l behind Standing Ovation (10-0) at Wincanton 3m 3f hcp chs 0-140 (3) gd in Oct.
Merry King (IRE) 8-1 (10-10) Held up towards rear, headway before 3 out, chased leaders when slight stumble 2 out, went 2nd at the last, no chance with winner, 2nd of 16, 6l behind Houblon Des Obeaux (11-3) at Ascot 3m Grade 3 hcp chs (4yo+) (1) gs.
Loch Ba (IRE) 10-3fav (10-11) Held up mid-division, dropped towards rear 9th, tracked leaders 5 out, chased winner before last, kept on and no impression, 2nd of 9, 4 1/2l behind Midnight Appeal (10-10) at Bangor 3m hcp chs 0-150 (2) hvy.
Whodoyouthink (IRE) 33-1 (11-3) Soon mid-division, 8th halfway, good heaway to be prominent before 3 out, no extra from before next, 8th of 14, 33l behind Count Salazar (10-13) at Galway 2m 6f hcp chs hvy in Oct.