VIEUX LION ROUGE will probably start a short-priced favourite having won both starts over hurdles with something to spare. He has a couple of Grade 1 entries at Cheltenham and will need to win this to justify those but faces no easy task giving 21lb to the four-year-old Prince Khurram. Donald McCain's charge won a couple of times on the Flat in France last year and will have learned plenty from a promising fourth behind Daralan at Newbury last month. The others are likely to be playing for place with Lord Brendy probably the pick of them.
Vieux Lion Rouge (FR) 1-4fav (11-8) Made virtually all, over 2 lengths ahead and in command when left well clear 2 out, very easily, unchallenged, won at Wincanton 2m nh nov hdl (3) sft in Jan beating Steel Summit (10-11) by 6l, 13 ran.
Classic Rally (IRE) 25-1 (10-12) Held up towards rear, headway and not fluent 5 out, soon weakened, pulled up before 3 out, in a race won by Racing Pulse (10-12) at Newcastle 2m 6f nh nov hdl (4) gd in Dec, 10 ran.
Lord Brendy 11-4 (11-3) In touch in 4th, took keen hold, went poor 4th before last, no impression, 4th of 7, 25l behind Mohawk Ridge (11-3) at Carlisle 2m 1f nh nov hdl (4) hvy.
The Village (IRE) 80-1 (11-3) Always towards rear, weakened before 5 out, tailed off, 6th of 10, well behind Stonebrook (11-3) at Ayr 2m mdn hdl (5) hvy.
Femme D'espere 150-1 (10-8) Always behind, tailed off, last of 13, well behind Mountain King (11-4) at Ludlow 2m nh nov hdl (4) hvy in Jan.
Dermo's Dilemma 125-1 (10-5) Led in start, held up behind in touch, struggling after 3 out, tailed off from next, 5th of 7, well behind Forced Family Fun (10-12) at Hexham 2m 3yo mdn hdl (5) hvy in Nov.
Prince Khurram 4-1 (10-12) Tracked leaders and raced on inside, challenged in 3rd 2 out, switched right and went 2nd between last 2, soon driven, 2 lengths down and held when hit last, no extra in 3rd final half furlong, 3rd of 7, 4 1/2l behind Dawalan (11-5) at Newbury 2m 4yo hdl (4) sft in Jan.