ESTEEM has ability, as he proved when successful at Ludlow last month. He's been a shade unfortunate to unseat his rider either side of that success and is the one to beat here if putting in a clear round. Whatshallwedo beat today's rival Strathaird by 23 lengths at Bangor in December and followed up over hurdles at Fontwell. But he was a big disappointment over the smaller obstacles here six weeks ago and has gone up in the weights since. Sablazo and Royal Mile have the past form to figure but both were pulled up on their latest start and have a bit to prove now.
Whatshallwedo 4-7fav (10-13) Held up towards rear, headway before 6th, went 3rd 3 out, soon pushed along and beaten, 3rd of 8, 33l behind Johnny Owen (10-0) at Southwell 2m hcp hdl 0-95 (5) gs in Jan.
Rajeeva (IRE) 9-1 (11-6) Led, ridden and headed before 2 out, weakened rapidly, behind and pulled up before last, in a race won by Sustainability (11-3) at Hereford 2m 1f hcp hdl 0-95 (5) gs in Nov, 15 ran.
Rye Rocket 5-1 (11-0) Held up mid-division, weakened from 5 out, 5th of 9, well behind Qualitee (11-3) at Ludlow 2m 4f nov hcp chs 0-100 (5) gd in Dec.
Megabill (IRE) 40-1 (11-5) Tracked leaders, mistake 2nd, ridden and lost place after 4th, well beaten approaching 3 out, tailed off, last of 13, well behind Castle Conflict (11-5) at Hereford 2m 1f NH mdn hdl (5) sft in Jan.
Sablazo (FR) 4-1fav (11-8) Held up towards rear, jumped left 4th, behind 8th, pulled up after, in a race won by My Faithful Annie (9-13) at Huntingdon 2m 4f hcp chs 0-90 (5) sft in Jan, 9 ran.
Esteem 11-4 (10-8) Held up in rear and behind, steady headway travelling well, still plenty to do 4 out, disputing 11 lengths 5th when error and unseated rider 3 out, in a race won by Drom (12-4) at Leicester 2m 4f hcp ch 0-95 (5) gd in Jan, 11 ran.
Royal Mile (IRE) 7-4fav (10-9) Held up in rear, headway before 4 out, soon ridden, weakened before 3 out, pulled up before 2 out, in a race won by Red Tanber (10-0) at Musselburgh 2m 4f nov hcp chs 0-100 (5) gd in Dec, 6 ran.
Watchmaker 33-1 (9-13) Jumped left, led until after 3 out, soon weakened, pulled up before next, in a race won by Star Galaxy (11-5) at Huntingdon 2m hcp chs 0-100 (5) sft in Jan, 7 ran.
Paul Revere (IRE) 16-1 (10-8) Mid-division, weakened before 5 out, pulled up before 3 out, tailed off, in a race won by Alpha Way (11-5) at Hereford 2m 3f hcp 0-100 (5) sft in Dec, 14 ran.
Bohemian Rock 5-1 (10-10) Tracked leaders until after 4th, behind from 6th, tailed off, 8th of 10, well behind Drom (11-12) at Towcester 2m hcp chs 0-95 (5) sft in Jan.
Strathaird (IRE) 4-1 (9-9) Held up in rear, headway from 3 out, kept on, 3rd of 8, 5l behind Transact (11-2) at Newcastle 2m hcp chs 0-95 (5) sft.