A tricky opener as several of these have been struggling to get their head in front. Forty Five has gone back up in the weights since finishing third at Ludlow, while Robin De Creuse has been placed six times in a row over hurdles and fences and started favourite in his last four outings. Francis Du Mesnil is on a long losing run and Rich Lord was pulled up on his latest start at Haydock and may struggle to see out this trip. Nosecond Chance has disappointed since winning over 2m at Hereford so we'll give another chance to JUNIOR JACK. Daniel Hiskett rode the bottom weight into third place behind Corkage over C&D last month and a similar effort today would give him every chance of opening his account over fences.
Nosecond Chance (IRE) 10-1 (11-7) Tracked leaders, pushed along before 11th, weakened approaching 2 out, 3rd of 4, 28l behind Pacha Du Polder (11-3) at Warwick 2m 4f nov chs (3) gs in Jan.
Rich Lord 10-1 (10-7) Held up in rear, ridden after 4th, jumped left next, behind 6th, pulled up before 3 out, in a race won by Storm Surge (9-7) at Haydock 2m hcp chs 0-135 (3) hvy in Dec, 9 ran.
Forty Five (IRE) 15-8fav (11-1) Tracked leaders, not fluent 7th, ridden after 3 out, switched left after next, not fluent last, stayed on towards finish, 3rd of 7, 3 1/2l behind Stormhoek (10-7) at Ludlow 2m 4f hcp chs 0-120 (4) gs in Jan.
Robin De Creuse (FR) 4-5fav (11-0) Left 3rd at 2nd, went 2nd and blundered 3 out, trying to close and 2 lengths down when went right last, stayed on same pace and no impression flat, 2nd of 4, 2 1/4l behind Silver Roque (11-0) at Folkestone 2m mdn chs (5) gs in Jan.
Francis Du Mesnil (FR) 40-1 (10-4) Held up in rear, pecked 1st, headway approaching 11th, weakened before 3 out, tailed off, 5th of 14, 47l behind Hunt Ball (10-6) at Wincanton 2m 5f hcp chs 0-130 (3) gs in Jan.
Evella (IRE) 14-1 (11-6) Led, jumped left at times, mistake 12th, headed approaching 3 out, beaten in 3rd next, soon weakened, tailed off, 7th of 9, well behind Dont Tell Sailor (11-3) at Leicester 2m 7f hcp chs 0-120 (4) gd in Jan.
Nataani (IRE) 7-1 (11-8) Prominent, went 2nd 3rd, not fluent 7th, challenged 4 out, lost 2nd next, weakened soon after, 4th of 11, 28l behind Rigadin De Beauchene (10-5) at Hereford 2m 5f hcp chs 0-120 (4) sft in Dec.
The Disengager (IRE) 3-1 (10-12) Tracked leaders, took keen hold, mistake 9th, not fluent 11th, chased winner approaching 2 out, no impression flat, 2nd of 9, 8l behind The Panama Kid (11-9) at Perth 2m 4f hcp chs 0-115 (4) gs in Sep.
Ring Bo Ree (IRE) 7-1 (11-3) Held up behind on inside, headway when blundered 12th, went 2nd 3 out, kept on same pace, no chance with winner when hit last, 2nd of 9, 13l behind Corkage (11-12) at Southwell 2m 4f hcp chs 0-115 (4) gs in Jan.
Pamak D'airy (FR) 20-1 (11-5) Held up mid-division, weakened 5 out, 7th of 14, 38l behind Douglas Julian (11-5) at Newcastle 2m 4f hcp chs 0-115 (4) gs in Nov.
Junior Jack 11-2 (10-1) Pressed leader, led 10 to 12th, chased winner to 3 out, ridden and edged left before next, kept on same pace, 3rd of 9, 14l behind Corkage (11-12) at Southwell 2m 4f hcp chs 0-115 (4) gs in Jan.