The three previous winners set a decent standard in this, though Peqeno Diablo has his first start for a new stable having landed a maiden hurdle at Clonmel in October for Brian Jordan. Connections of Crystal Rock will be hoping for a change of fortune with the five-year-old having found one too good at both Kempton and Cheltenham last month. But the interesting one could be IOLITH, who was a fair performer on the Flat in Germany and cane good at the third time of asking over timber at Kempton. That was his first start for nine months so it will be a surprise if there's not more in the locker. Swinging Hawk shaped nicely at Aintree and is another to note along with newcomers Ange Guerrier and Reginaldinho.
Crystal Rock (IRE) 10-1 (11-5) Chased leaders, led 3 out, strongly pressed soon after, kept on under pressure from last, caught on post, 2nd of 19, shd behind Devil To Pay (10-6) at Cheltenham 2m nov hcp hdl (3) gs in Nov.
Iolith (GER) 7-1 (10-12) Mid-division, headway 3 out, challenged next, led between last 2, not fluent last, driven and kept on flat, won at Kempton 2m nh nov hdl (4) gd in Nov beating Ballinteni (10-12) by 2 3/4l, 13 ran.
Peqeno Diablo (IRE) 9-1 (10-11) Always prominent, led before 5 out, ridden and joined 3 out, headed before 2 out, rallied to regain lead inside final furlong, kept on, won at Clonmel 2m 5yo mdn hdl in Oct beating Ordinary Man (11-4) by 1l, 9 ran.
Ange Guerrier (FR) (9-1) won at Deauville(FR) 1m 4f stk pol in Oct '09 beating Grandretour (9-1) by 2l, 9 ran (flat).
Cool Strike (UAE) 13-2 (9-4) Tracked winner, joined winner 8f out until over 3f out, ridden over 2f out, weakened inside final furlong, 5th of 8, 7l behind Spirit Is Needed (9-4) at Newmarket 1m 4f clm stks (4) gd in Sep (flat).
E Street Boy 3-1fav (10-12) Mid-division, headway 7f out, chased leader 6f out, one pace final 2f, 4th of 14, 19l behind Midnight Macarena (10-9) at Fontwell 2m 2f NH flat (6) gd in Jun.
Hawkaller 100-1 (10-7) Always in rear, 8th of 12, well behind Frascati Park (10-12) at Ascot 2m 3f nov hdl (3) gs in Nov.
Master Milan (IRE) 66-1 (10-12) Mid-division, lost place 4th, behind from 3 out, 14th of 16, well behind Prince Of Pirates (10-12) at Cheltenham 2m 1f NH nov hdl 4-6yo (3) gd.
Reginaldinho (UAE) (9-13) 3rd of 18, 4 1/2l behind Mister Gibraltar (9-4) at Clairefontaine(FR) 1m 4f stk in Aug (flat).
Shammick Boy (IRE) 5-1 (11-0) With leaders, lost place 5f out, soon behind, 9th of 13, 36l behind Lucky Landing (11-0) at Uttoxeter 2m NH flat (6) hvy in Nov.
Spirit Is Needed (IRE) 40-1 (8-11) Soon pushed along in rear, never a factor, 13th of 16, 13l behind Vulcanite (8-10) at Ascot 1m 4f hcp 105 (2) gs in Oct (flat).
Superior Knight 66-1 (10-12) Took keen hold, in touch until weakened 3 out, tailed off, 12th of 16, 44l behind High Benefit (10-5) at Warwick 2m nov hdl (4) gs in Nov.
Swinging Hawk (GER) 33-1 (11-8) Held up behind, headway on inside 3 out, effort when not fluent next, ridden and kept on under pressure flat, not reached leaders, 4th of 13, 1 3/4l behind Midnight Opera (11-1) at Aintree 2m mdn hdl (3) sft in Nov.
Our Flora 33-1 (9-13) Always behind, tailed off, 8th of 10, well behind Silviniaco Conti (11-3) at Bangor 2m 1f nov hdl (3) gd in Oct.