Whisper has won twice over this trip at Ffos Las but was outclassed in a Grade 2 at Cheltenham in between and may not be ready for this company just yet. Barry Geraghty prefers The Queen's Close Touch, unbeaten until tackling this trip for the first time at Doncaster, while Nicky Henderson also saddles three-times winner Golden Hoof. Kings Lad beat Imperial Cup favourite Mr Mole in November but hasn't managed a win since while Edmund Kean and Barrakilla need to improve again if they are to complete the hat-trick. MANY CLOUDS is giving weight to all of his rivals but looks a smart prospect and may be up to the task. His two defeats this season have been at the hands of smart novices and his latest victory at Exeter is working out well. God's Own appreciated the step up to 2m4f at Musselburgh last time and may prove the pick of the remainder.
Many Clouds (IRE) 2-1 (11-11) Took keen hold, chased leaders, went 2nd before 4th, led 5th, joined and pressed from 2 out, driven before last, stayed on gamely flat to assert final 100 yards, won at Exeter 2m 3f nov hdl (4) hvy in Feb beating Just A Par (11-11) by 3/4l, 15 ran.
Imperial Leader (IRE) 7-4 (11-5) Chased leaders, not fluent 3rd or 4th, jumped left 3 out, stayed on same pace last, 3rd of 12, 9l behind Chiberta King (10-12) at Newbury 2m 3f nov hdl (4) sft in Jan.
Whisper (FR) 4-9fav (11-8) Mid-division, headway 3rd, led on bit 2 out, soon clear, very easily, won at Ffos Las 2m 4f NH nov hdl (4-7yo) (4) hvy in Feb beating Rydon Pynes (11-2) by 18l, 12 ran.
Kings Lad (IRE) 10-1 (10-3) Tracked winner, driven to challenge approaching last, soon ridden and every chance, kept on until well held final 100 yards, 2nd of 15, 4 1/2l behind Mr Watson (10-3) at Cheltenham 2m 1f hcp hdl (2) hvy in Jan.
Up To Something (FR) 9-4fav (11-8) Led, ridden approaching 2 out, not fluent last, headed flat, fought back well, held close home, 2nd of 10, nk behind Le Reve (11-2) at Market Rasen 2m 3f NH nov hdl (4-7yo) (3) sft in Feb.
Edmund Kean (IRE) 8-11fav (11-9) In touch in handy 5th, pushed along in 3rd soon after 3 out, not fluent next, soon ridden, stayed on to lead going to last, kept on well flat, eased close home, won at Taunton 2m 1f nov hdl (4) hvy in Feb beating Minella For Party (11-2) by 4 1/2l, 14 ran.
Barrakilla (IRE) 15-8fav (11-11) Tracked leaders, kept out wide when challenging after 2 out, led before last, edged left flat, comfortably, won at Uttoxeter 2m 4f hcp hdl 0-120 (4) hvy in Feb beating Hassadin (11-4) by 4 1/2l, 9 ran.
Close Touch 11-10fav (11-12) Held up in touch, headway to track leaders before 3 out, chased winner last, kept on and always well held, 2nd of 13, 4l behind African Gold (11-12) at Doncaster 2m 3f NH nov hdl (4-7yo) (4) sft in Feb.
Golden Hoof (IRE) 5-4 (11-12) Tracked leader, not fluent 1st, left in lead 6th, well clear from 2 out, unchallenged, won at Bangor 2m 1f NH nov hdl (4-7yo) (4) hvy in Feb beating Gee Hi (11-2) by 21l, 5 ran.
Special Catch (IRE) 13-8fav (11-12) Mid-division, headway before 2 out, weakened last, 4th of 14, 12l behind Get Back In Line (11-2) at Catterick 2m 3f NH nov hdl (4-7yo) (4) sft in Feb.
God's Own (IRE) 11-10fav (11-11) Tracked leaders in 4th, went 3rd before 8th, went 2nd 3 out, led before 2 out, clear before last, kept on strongly, won at Musselburgh 2m 4f nh nov hdl (4) gd in Feb beating Cayman Islands (11-11) by 22l, 8 ran.
Le Reve (IRE) 9-4fav (11-2) Tracked leaders, mistake 1st, dropped into mid-division, headway after 3 out, went 2nd last, led flat, in command close home, won at Market Rasen 2m 3f NH nov hdl (4-7yo) (3) sft in Feb beating Up To Something (11-8) by nk, 10 ran.
King Of The Wolds (IRE) 15-2 (11-8) Led, ridden before last, headed run-in, kept on, 2nd of 14, 2 1/2l behind Get Back In Line (11-2) at Catterick 2m 3f NH nov hdl (4-7yo) (4) sft in Feb.
De Blacksmith (IRE) 14-1 (11-7) Took keen hold, chased leader, challenged 3 out, ridden and hung right before next, soon weakened, 10th of 15, 16l behind Baby Shine (11-4) at Kempton 2m 5f hcp hdl 0-135 (3) gd in Feb.
Thomas Crapper 13-2 (11-4) Towards rear, pushed along over 6f out, headway 2f out weakened inside final furlong, 7th of 12, 13l behind Rysbrack (11-4) at Wolverhampton 2m n h flat (4) std in Jan.
Drum Valley 9-4 (11-11) Held up mid-division, chased leaders 5 out, went 4th before 2 out, ridden before last, kept on, 3rd of 8, 6l behind Westward Point (11-4) at Warwick 2m 5f nh nov hdl (3) hvy in Feb.
The Italian Yob (IRE) 6-1 (10-1) Led, mistake 5th, headed after 3 out, led again approaching and mistake 2 out, headed soon after, no chance with easy winner, kept on for 2nd, 2nd of 12, 10l behind Lord Of House (9-9) at Sandown 2m hcp hdl 0-145 (2) hvy in Jan.
Seedsman 15-2 (11-8) Held up, headway 7th, chased leader approaching 2 out, ridden and every chance approaching last, kept on one pace, 2nd of 10, 6l behind Edmund Kean (11-2) at Fakenham 2m 4f NH nov hdl (4-7yo) (3) sft in Feb.