This is competitive but QUARTZ DE THAIX should be hard to beat and is selected accordingly, with Sambulando and Tillietudlem regarded as the chief threats. Our selection had been disappointing over fences before readily landing a better race than this when switched to the smaller obstacles last week. At a similar trip and with ground conditions ideal, he's taken to defy a 7lb penalty and gain his second success, with the straight-forward manner of the first one still fresh in the memory. Sambulando is up 5lbs for taking second last time but that contest was a strong one and he remains capable of better. He's won on good ground and shapes as though this trip won't be a problem despite having only won over shorter so far. Tillietudlem made all to score in decisive fashion last time and must have claims under a penalty having jumped so well that day, but our feeling is this will be tougher and he's likely to be found wanting for a turn of foot late on. Sure Josie Sure is down to run on Wednesday and that contest needs watching to assess her chance but she does appear fairly treated, whilst Hearthstead Dream represents a trainer who does so well here that it'd be folly to rule him out. Lead On has been struggling for a while but did show a bit more last time, however this is no easier and we much prefer Quartz de Thaix.
Quartz de Thaix (FR) 20-1 (11-1) Made virtually all, driven flat, stayed on well to draw clear final 100 yards, won at Cheltenham 2m 4f hcp hdl (2) gd beating Pontop (10-9) by 5l, 11 ran.
Astarador (FR) 16-1 (11-12) Led, ridden and headed before 2 out, kept on under pressure approaching last, lost 3rd flat, 4th of 8, 3 1/2l behind Well Disguised (9-8) at Newcastle 2m hcp hdl 0-130 (3) sft in Mar.
Los Nadis (GER) 9-1 (10-12) Held up towards rear, weakened from 5 out, left remote 3rd last, 3rd of 6, 17l behind Diamond Frontier (11-2) at Carlisle 2m nov chs (4) sft.
Oh So Humbel (IRE) 5-2 (10-13) Attempted to make all, fell 4 out, in a race won by Mighty Massini (11-7) at Downpatrick 2m 2f nov chs in Mar, 9 ran.
Sambulando (FR) 5-1 (11-5) Mid-division, headway 4th, challenged on bit from 2 out, ridden flat, held final 100 yards, 2nd of 9, 1/2l behind County Zen (11-8) at Newbury 2m hcp hdl 0-135 (3) sft in Mar.
Lead On (IRE) 6-1 (11-0) Chased leaders, ridden and hit 7th, 2nd 3 out, led narrowly 2 out, headed before last, weakened flat, 4th of 9, 4l behind Oscar Bay (11-6) at Chepstow 2m 4f hcp hdl 0-135 (3) gd.
Tillietudlem (FR) 28-1 (10-12) Made all, ridden flat, stayed on gamely, won at Ayr 3m nov hcp hdl 0-135 (3) gd beating Mcmurrough (11-7) by 4 1/2l, 8 ran.
Sure Josie Sure (FR) 15-2 (10-11) Mid-division, headway 6th, hanging right well before 3 out, not fluent 2 out, weakened last, 14th of 18, 38l behind Ryde Back (10-5) at Newbury 2m 5f mrs nov hcp hdl Listed (1) sft in Mar.
Hearthstead Dream 12-1 (11-7) Towards rear, headway into straight, ridden into 6th before last, kept on without threatening run-in, 5th of 20, 8l behind Instinctive (11-7) at Gowran Park 2m 4f hcp hdl 8Evens16.
Pontop (IRE) 12-1 (10-9) Held up in touch, lost place 6th, rallied after 2 out, stayed on under pressure to take 2nd flat, no impression on winner, 2nd of 11, 5l behind Quartz De Thaix (11-1) at Cheltenham 2m 4f hcp hdl (2) gd.
Terenzium (IRE) 9-1 (10-11) Chased leaders, weakened 6th, tailed off, 6th of 11, well behind Federstar (10-9) at Hexham 2m 4f hcp hdl 0-125 (3) sft in Mar.