SIRE DE GRUGY should cap a wonderful season by winning a fourth Grade 1 of the campaign. According to the handicapper, Gary Moore's Queen Mother Champion Chase hero has at least a stone in hand on his rivals and won this 12 months ago when it was only a Grade 2. Special Tiara was only sixth at Cheltenham and looks to have little chance of reversing the form but he may still be the pick of the opposition ahead of improving handicapper Claret Cloak. Australia Day will ensure this is run at a good gallop but is likely to be picked off up the hill and French Opera is starting to look a light of former days.
Australia Day (IRE) 12-1 (11-4) Led, driven after 4 out, headed next, soon rallied, weakening when hit, 4th of 10, 7l behind Willow's Saviour (10-2) at Musselburgh 2m hcp hdl (2) gd in Nov.
Claret Cloak (IRE) 7-2fav (11-8) Held up towards rear, steady headway from 7th, hit 3 out, went 2nd approaching last, unable to challenge winner, one pace when lost 2nd towards finish, 3rd of 16, 3l behind Parsnip Pete (10-10) at Aintree 2m hcp chs G3 (1) gd.
French Opera 25-1 (11-10) Tracked leaders, lost place 9th, behind from 4 out, soon weakened, 9th of 10, 23l behind Boston Bob (11-10) at Aintree 2m 4f chs G1 (1) gd.
Kauto Stone (FR) 25-1 (11-2) Towards rear, headway into mid-division when blundered and unseated rider 8th, in a race won by Ma Filleule (11-7) at Aintree 2m 5f hcp chs G3 (1) gs, 30 ran.
Lancetto (FR) 50-1 (10-6) Chased leaders to 10th, behind when hampered 4 out, 15th of 23, 34l behind Savello (11-5) at Cheltenham 2m hcp chs G3 (1) gd in Mar.
Sire De Grugy (FR) 11-4fav (11-10) Held up in mid-division, headway 4 out, challenged 2 out, led before last, ridden and stayed on strongly flat, won at Cheltenham 2m chs G1 (1) gd in Mar beating Somersby (11-10) by 6l, 11 ran.
Special Tiara 16-1 (11-10) Led, hit 3rd, blundered and headed next, led 5th until before next, led after 4 out until before 2 out, soon beaten, weakened flat, 6th of 11, 16l behind Sire De Grugy (11-10) at Cheltenham 2m chs G1 (1) gd in Mar.
Pepite Rose (FR) 9-1 (11-3) Tracked leaders, went 2nd before 4 out, challenged next, ridden to lead briefly between last 2, one pace and no impression before last, 6th of 10, 9l behind Boston Bob (11-10) at Aintree 2m 4f chs G1 (1) gd.