Dartford Warbler was tailed off on his chasing bow at Uttoxeter and Rick has run nowhere near his form over hurdles so far. Houndscourt returned to action with an easy win over timber at Southwell and goes chasing for the first time, as does Dreams Of Milan, who won twice over the smaller obstacles last season. HATTERS RIVER is also a winner over hurdles and showed promise when tackling fences for the first time at Taunton last month. Ali Brewer's charge gets the nod to come out best in this.
Dartford Warbler (IRE) 11-1 (11-4) Held up in 4th, outpaced 5 out, weakened next, tailed off, 5th of 6, 41l behind Le Bec (11-4) at Uttoxeter 2m 4f beg chs (4) gs in Oct.
Rick (FR) 14-1 (10-10) In touch, ridden 10th, weakened 3 out, tailed off, 4th of 7, well behind Gullinbursti (11-1) at Market Rasen 2m 6f (3) sft in Nov.
Houndscourt (IRE) 4-7fav (10-12) Took keen hold tracking leading pair, led 6th, driven before 2 out, soon joined, hung left and headed between last 2, 4 lengths 2nd and held when left clear last, won at Southwell 2m 4f nh nov hdl (4) sft in Nov beating Speckled Door (10-12) by 13l, 5 ran.
Westward Point 7-1 (10-13) Led, set strong pace and clear 3rd, mistake 6th, reduced lead 9th, headed before 4 out, soon 3rd and no chance with leading duo, weakened to 4th soon after 2 out, tailed off, last of 4, 37l behind Taquin Du Seuil (11-2) at Ffos Las 2m nov chs (4) hvy in Oct.
Dreams Of Milan (IRE) 9-4fav (10-11) Tracked leaders, reminder after 1st, clsoed 3 out, ridden after 2 out, every chance last, held towards finish, 2nd of 5, 1l behind Seymour Eric (11-9) at Ayr 3m nov hcp hdl 0-135 (3) gs in Apr.
Purcell's Bridge (FR) 13-2 (11-2) Towards rear, weakened before 3 out, 8th of 10, well behind Big Casino (11-1) at Carlisle 2m 4f hcp hdl 0-120 (4) sft in Oct.
Hatters River (IRE) 14-1 (10-13) Took keen hold and held up in last pair, not fluent 13th, headway approaching and not fluent 3 out, modest 5th before next, plugged on to modest 4th flat, 4th of 8, 6l behind Coole River (11-4) at Taunton 2m 7f nov hcp chs 0-125 (3) gd in Nov.
Jimmie Brown (USA) 40-1 (10-11) In rear, pushed along before and mistake 5 out, soon weakened, last of 5, well behind Mwaleshi (10-9) at Wetherby 2m nov chs (4) gs in Nov.