Escardo won this race last year and despite being some 17lb higher on this occasion, David Bridgwater's gelding does at least have ground conditions in his favour. Chilbury Hill holds few secrets from the handicapper though he's seemed a much more consistent horse since joining Tim Vaughan, and having won at Worcester earlier in the month, we fancy him to follow up. Hazeldene has been busy between the flags and he's dropped significantly down the weights since we last saw him under Rules. The Fox's Decree is known as a soft ground performer though he is a previous course and winner when similar conditions have obtained. Brannoc has shown himself to be far from the safest of conveyances yet he did run a career best at Southwell and Andrew Thornton will maintain their partnership
The Fox's Decree 4-1 (10-3) Held up, hampered after 2nd, pushed along 5th, went 4th before 2 out, never on terms, 4th of 9, 18l behind Compton Blue (11-8) at Market Rasen 2m 5f hcp hdl 0-110 (4) gf.
Hazeldene 7-2 (12-0) Led to 9; wknd rap; pu 12, in a race won by Ungaro (12-0) at Melton Hunt Club 3m ptp gd in May, 13 ran.
Chilbury Hill (IRE) 7-1 (10-3) Towards rear, headway 6th and mistake, went 3rd 2 out, kept on to lead run-in, won at Worcester 2m 4f hcp 0-100 (5) gd beating Quel Bruere (11-7) by 1 1/2l, 10 ran.
Escardo (GER) 9-2 (11-1) Mid-division, chased leading pair under pressure before 3 out (usual 4 out), soon ridden and no impression, weakened before last, 6th of 10, 29l behind Echo Dancer (9-13) at Worcester 2m hcp chs 0-100 (5) gd in Jun.
Brannoc (IRE) 4-1 (11-3) Chased leader, lost place 4th, rallied and left 3rd at 7th, chased winner 9th, driven before 3 out, trying to close when not fluent 2 out, soon no extra and held, mistake last, 2nd of 7, 10l behind Darnborough (10-12) at Southwell 2m hcp chs 0-95 (5) gd in Jun.
Stafford Charlie 50-1 (10-2) Mid-division, reminder 6th, mistake next, behind when blundered 14th, soon pulled up, in a race won by Royale Knight (11-4) at Towcester 3m hcp chs 0-95 (5) gf in Oct, 16 ran.