This looks a competitive affair but you would expect both Big Water and Blackwater King to improve on what they achieved last season while Knight In Purple, Stormy Weather and Tinseltown are all capable of getting involved on their best form. Strongly Suggested has proved a consistent sort over the last few months but Coverholder appeared to be in the handicapper's grip in the spring while Pas Trop Tard starts the new campaign on a high enough mark. Taaresh and Lifetime could find this too tough and Dumbarton finished tailed off on his first start for James Moffat at Cartmel, though did finish ahead of Knight In Purple at Bangor in August. LIGHTENING ROD never figured in this 12 months ago but goes well fresh, usually does well here and still isn't badly treated despite being raised 6lb for his victory over track and trip in April - he gets a tentative vote.
Pas Trop Tard (FR) 25-1 (11-10) Held up towards rear, pushed along before 3 out, headway before next, stayed on same pace flat, 4th of 9, 10l behind Bar De Ligne (11-5) at Perth 2m 4f hcp hdl 0-140 (3) gs in Apr.
Knight In Purple 11-2 (11-8) Prominent, ridden after 3 out, one pace next, no extra when blundered last, last of 6, 21l behind Adelar (11-2) at Bangor 2m 1f hcp hdl 0-140 (3) gd in Aug.
Lightening Rod 6-1 (11-9) Held up towards rear, good headway approaching 3 out, chased leading trio 2 out, strong run under pressure flat, led final 75 yards, hung right in closing stages, won at Wetherby 2m hcp hdl 0-120 (4) gd in Apr beating Rhymers Ha' (11-2) by 1l, 12 ran.
Dumbarton (IRE) 14-1 (11-11) Held up in touch, not fluent 1st or 5th, 3rd when not fluent 3 out, weakened after 2 out, 11th of 14, 46l behind Dartford Warbler (10-11) at Cartmel 2m 1f hcp hdl 0-130 (3) gd in Aug.
Big Water (IRE) 11-10fav (11-0) With leader and clear, ridden and hung left before last, led last 100 yards, kept on, driven out, won at Carlisle 2m 1f nh nov hdl (4) hvy in Mar beating Swaledale Lad (11-1) by nk, 10 ran.
Strongly Suggested 8-11fav (11-12) Led until 1st, tracked leaders, went 2nd 4th, led before 2 out, stayed on, won at Market Rasen 2m 1f hcp hdl 0-120 (4) gd in Aug beating Dont Take Me Alive (11-3) by 2l, 4 ran.
Stormy Weather (FR) 16-1 (11-2) Held up towards rear, outpaced 3 out, plugged on from next, never near leaders, 6th of 11, 24l behind Ahyaknowyerself (11-4) at Market Rasen 2m 1f Listed hcp hdl (1) gd in Sep.
Blackwater King (IRE) 11-10fav (11-8) Led until fell 6th, in a race won by Golden Hoof (11-12) at Bangor 2m 1f NH nov hdl (4-7yo) (4) hvy in Feb, 5 ran.
Coverholder (IRE) 8-1 (11-7) With leaders, pushed along before 3 out, weakened and lost 2 places towards finish, 5th of 11, 4l behind Mubrook (11-4) at Ayr 2m 4f hcp hdl 0-125 (3) gd in Apr.
Taaresh (IRE) 28-1 (10-2) Behind, some headway under pressure before 2 out, kept on same pace, never on terms, 4th of 11, 20l behind Ahyaknowyerself (11-4) at Market Rasen 2m 1f Listed hcp hdl (1) gd in Sep.
Tinseltown 2-1fav (10-10) Tracked leaders, went 2nd 4th, led next, headed 2 out, no impression on winner last, lost 2 places close home, 4th of 14, 9l behind Dartford Warbler (10-11) at Cartmel 2m 1f hcp hdl 0-130 (3) gd in Aug.
Lifetime (IRE) 4-1 (10-12) Tracked leading pair, driven and lost 3rd soon after 3 out, stayed on same pace, went poor 3rd again between last 2, 3rd of 6, 23l behind Raktiman (10-12) at Southwell 2m 4f nov sell hdl (5) gd in Jul.