Salpierre is likely to prove very hard to beat here under a penalty gained for cruising to success at Southwell. He's surely very well treated still and, with improvement likely, deserves to start favourite. However, he faces a very interesting rival in IT'S A DATE and we'll take a chance on Alan King's horse. This gelding managed to win a flat handicap off 83 in early summer, when a switch to positive tactics worked wonders, and his trainer suggests that he should do better as a second-season hurdler. If his jumping issues have been ironed out and similar tactics work in this code then he could prove very nicely treated. To add intrigue here is Jeanry, a winner without a penalty after his jockey eased-down at Bangor. It's good to see the young pilot given a chance to redeem himself and he'd be a popular winner, but he's been found a race in which two look potentially thrown-in.
Baynes Cross (IRE) 7-2 (10-12) Mid-division, headway when hit 4th, went 2nd after 7th, no impression after 3 out, not fluent 2 out, left clear last, won at Stratford 2m 3f cnd/am sll hdl (5) gs in Oct beating Nouailhas (10-9) by 8l, 12 ran.
Perkin Warbeck 12-1 (11-9) Held up mid-division, weakened from 3 out, 7th of 15, 28l behind Guydus (10-13) at Southwell 2m 4f hcp hdl 0-105 (4) sft in Feb.
Tom O'Tara 6-1 (10-12) Held up, headway after 3rd, chased leaders 4 out, stayed on same pace under pressure from next, jumped right last, 3rd of 11, 10l behind Park Lane (11-10) at Warwick 2m hcp hdl 0-110 (4) gd.
Washango (IRE) 5-1 (11-3) Mid-division, headway on outside after 6th, every chance 3 out, weakened next, mistake last, 5th of 10, 33l behind Riverscape (11-10) at Uttoxeter 2m mrs nov hdl (4) gd in Jul.
Tiger Dream 16-1 (11-5) Towards rear, ridden approaching 4th, always behind, 5th of 13, 30l behind Amuse Me (10-11) at Towcester 2m 4yo Am hcp 0-100 (4) gd in Oct.
Salpierre (IRE) 7-2fav (11-3) Held up in touch in rear, jumped slowly 2nd, headway after 6th, challenged next, led after 3 out, in command last, stayed on well, won at Southwell 2m 4f hcp hdl 0-100 (4) gd beating Spice Bar (10-0) by 4l, 10 ran.
It's A Date 8-1 (10-12) Held up towards rear, some headway when mistake 3 out, soon weakened, 7th of 15, 25l behind Dr Livingstone (10-12) at Leicester 2m nh nov hdl (3) gf in Dec.
French Ties (IRE) 7-1 (11-12) Held up in rear, short lived effort 3 out, soon ridden and weakened, pulled before next, in a race won by Liz's Dream (10-0) at Newcastle 2m 6f nov hcp hdl 0-95 (5) sft in Mar, 10 ran.
Pikasso (FR) 33-1 (10-12) Held up towards rear, headway to chase leaders approaching 4 out, ridden and no impression after 2 out, 5th of 11, 25l behind Habbie Simpson (10-12) at Wetherby 2m 4f nov hdl (4) gd in Oct.
Red Perfection 50-1 (10-0) Mid-division, weakened before 4 out, tailed off, 10th of 11, well behind Easter Legend (11-12) at Ascot 2m 6f mares hcp hdl 0-125 (3) gd in Nov '09.
Royaume Bleu (FR) 14-1 (11-0) Held up towards rear, weakened from 3 out, 6th of 13, 29l behind Nulato (11-0) at Southwell 2m 4f mdn hdl (5) gd in Apr.
Jeanry (FR) 4-1 (10-11) Led, clear before 2 out, ridden approaching last, eased right down final 75 yards and headed close home, 2nd of 8, 3/4l behind Monsieur (10-3) at Bangor 2m 1f hcp hdl (4) sft.
Baby Car (FR) 8-1 (10-12) Mid-division, headway 3 out, soon ridden, never troubled leaders, 6th of 10, 26l behind Just Beware (10-5) at Plumpton 2m hcp hdl 0-105 (4) gd.
Lisdonagh House (IRE) 13-2 (11-4) In rear, lost place from 3rd, soon tailed off, 5th of 8, well behind Rolecarr (11-4) at Hexham 2m hcp hdl 0-95 (5) hvy.