SAROQUE wasn't exactly foot-perfect at Newbury last month but that was only his second start over fences and he still won with a bit in hand. De Blacksmith was still in touch when unseating his rider that day and could get close with a clear round on 10lb better terms but we still expect Venetia Williams' charge to come out on top and double his tally. Avoca Promise has been a bit disappointing since winning at Huntingdon in October but could figure in this grade and makes more appeal than Itoldyou, who looks an out-and-out stayer. No Buts looks as though he'll make a better chaser than hurdler, however, and has place claims again.
Avoca Promise (IRE) 13-8 (10-13) Tracked winner until 8th, ridden to chase winner again 2 out, outpaced from last, 2nd of 3, 12l behind Knock A Hand (11-5) at Carlisle 2m 5f (3) hvy in Dec.
De Blacksmith (IRE) 10-1 (11-4) Went right 1st, chased winner until 6th, stayed chasing leaders, unseated rider 10th, in a race won by Saroque (10-8) at Newbury 2m 6f nov hcp chs 0-125 (3) sft in Dec, 6 ran.
Saroque (IRE) 5-2fav (10-8) Made virtually all, bruched 5th, not fluent 8th, mistake 12th, hit 4 out, joined next, driven and stayed on to go clear and assert before last, eased in closing stages, won at Newbury 2m 6f nov hcp chs 0-125 (3) sft in Dec beating Glen Countess (10-11) by 4l, 6 ran.
Marcus Antonius 6-1 (10-12) Held up in touch, unseated rider 4th, in a race won by Brick Red (10-12) at Plumpton 2m 1f nov chs (3) hvy, 5 ran.
No Buts 9-2 (10-10) Held up in rear, headway 6th, chased leaders 4 out, every chance 2 out, no extra closing stages, 3rd of 9, 6l behind Bucking The Trend (11-0) at Fontwell 2m 6f nov hcp chs 0-125 (3) gs in Dec.
Itoldyou (IRE) 3-1fav (11-3) Held up in rear, headway 5 out, chasing leaders when blundered 4 out, soon no impression, 3rd of 7, 13l behind Reblis (11-6) at Plumpton 3m 2f hcp chs 0-115 (4) sft in Dec.
Lord Of The Dunes 6-4fav (11-9) Held up in mid-division, headway to 3rd 3 out, ridden and wanderd approaching 2 out, weakened to 4th and blundered last, 4th of 12, 14l behind Party Palace (10-9) at Newton Abbot 2m 1f hcp hdl 0-105 (4) gd in May.